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WILD OATS. 



BY 

LASCELLES WRAXALL, 



LONDON : 
WAKD, LOCK, AND TYLEE, 

WARWICK HOUSE PATERNOSTER ROW. 



LONDON : 
B. C. BARRETT, HotTl ELL STREET, BLACKFlilAR 



TO 



WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH, Esa. 
Sl small CribtiU 

FOE, GEEAT KINDNESS. 



' Do not as ir.any rogues succeed in life as honest men ? 
more fools than men of talent ? And is it not just that 
the lives of this class should be described by the student of 
human nature as well as the actions of those fairy-tale princes 
— those perfectly impossible heroes, whom our writers love 
to describe? There is something naive and simple in that 
time-honoured style of novel writing by which Prince Pretty- 
man, at the end of his adventures, is put in possession of every 
worldly prosperity, as he has been endowed with every mental 
and bodily excellence previously. The novelist thinks he can 
do no more for his darling hero than make him a lord. la 
it not a poor standard, that, of the summum bonum ?" — Memoirs 
of Barry Lyndon. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. INJUSTA NOVERCA ..... 1 

II. — BIRCHMERE .... 9 

III. — A PARTING SCENE . . . .18 

IV. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER ... 27 

V. — DEMI-MONDE . . .37 

VI. — THE GENTLEMAN COMMONER . . 45 

VII. — BADEN-BADEN . . .54 

VIII. — THE MARQUIS OP LANCING ... 63 

IX. — THE DUEL . . .72 

X. — BY THE SAD SEA WAVES 81 

XI. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY POUNDS A YEAB . 90 

XII. GURKENHOF . 96 

XIII. — AN EXPLOSION ..... 104 

XIV. — MICHING MALLECHO .... 112 

XV. — WIND-BAGS .... 121 

XVI. — FILIA DOLOROSA . . 128 

XVII. — " THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER " . . 130 

XVIII. — A GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA . 145 

XIX. — SIMPLE CYMON . . . 153 

XX. MARCH, 1848 . . 162 

XXI. THE SPIDER AND THE FLY . 17^ 

XXII. — NOCTES LONDINENSES . 180 

XXIII. — LA DAME BLANCHE : PRENEZ GARDE ! . 18G 

XXIV. — SAFE BIND, SAFE FIND . 19S 

XXV. — BURDON'S HOTEL . . 207 

XXVI. — A MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE . 216 

XXVII. — THE DERBY DAY . . 224 

XXVIII. — THE ROAD TO RUIN .... 233 

XXIX. — THE " ARISTARCHCS " ... 242 

XXX. ANTIPODES . , . 251 

XXXI. — LITERARY PROSPECTS ... 260 



CONTENTS. 

CHAP. PAG! 

XXXII. — CLOUD-LAND . . • 209 

xxxni. — THE TBICOLOR . . • 277 

XXXIV. THE REVOLUTION . . . 286 

XXXV. — THE FLIGHT . 295 

XXXVI STANDRECHT 303 

XXXVII. — DOWN THE DANUBE . 312 

XXXVIII. — CONSTANTINOPLE . 321 

XXXIX. — "VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD" 330 

XL. — LE NEVEU DE SON ONCLE . 338 

XLI. — WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN ? . . 346 

XLII. — MENSCHENHASS UND REUE . 354 

XLIII. — ANCHORED !..... 363 



WILD OATS. 



CHAPTER I. 



INJDSTA KOVERCA. 

" 'Tis a way we hiive in the army, 
"lis a way we have in the navy, 
'Tis a way we have in the 'varsity, 
To drive dull care away!" 

Such was the burden of a song winch was being executed 
to a variety of voluntary tunes by a party of young men 
assembled in the rooms of Mr. Charles Dashwood, at St. 
Barnabas College, Oxford. Charley had just slipped 
through his " smalls " by an accident, and, according 
to prescriptive law, was compelled to celebrate the event 
by a wine party. Had the parents of these young men 
been able to take an Asmodean peep at the way in 
which their sons considered they were properly preparing 
themselves for the pulpit they would, no doubt, have felt 
highly gratified. The dessert was extravagantly abundant. 
The confectioner at the corner had received orders to supply 
it for twenty ; and, according to his view of the matter, he 
had sent in enough for forty. His arrangement with the 
scouts insured him the return of what was not consumed 
or wantonly destroyed, and his policy rendered him liberal. 
There was a terrific display of ices and sweet cakes, for 
the " men," as they proudly termed themselves, had not 
quite forgotten their schoolboy tastes. Of the wine I need 
say nothing, save that it was hot, sweet, and strong; and, 
as the men generally smoked with their port, their palate 
required something more piquant than France or Germany 
could supply. 



WILD OATS 



At the moment when my story commences the company 
were beginning to show the effect of the beverages they had 
imbibed; they were growing excited, and, after the Oxford 
fashion, could only display that excitement in noise. My 
hero's health had been drunk uproariously, and he had re- 
turned thanks in a neat speech. During the necessary silence 
several of the men were amusing themselves by digging 
holes in the ices, and filling them up with cigar-ash — a 
lively and intellectual amusement, but probably better 
than others in which they were wont to indulge. Various 
songs were then sung, apparently reminiscences of the 
Coal-hole and Cider Cellars, of which the point consisted in 
most improper allusions, but which were received with the 
most enthusiastic applause. 

During the lulls of noise the conversation which went 
on was well suited to the company. It turned principally 
on fortunate escapes from proctors and nocturnal exploits 
in the lower parts of the city, or else on the boat races, and 
the chance which Barnabas had of bumping Brazenose. 
But you may be sure there was not a word by which these 
young men displayed the idea that they had come to Oxford 
for any ulterior object. With them " sufficient unto the 
day was the evil thereof; " and they lived entirely for the 
present, careless of duns, or of the sufferings their follies 
would eventually entail upon them. 

Nor, on reflection, does it seem surprising that such 
should be the result of college education. A quantity of 
boys are removed from public schools, where they have 
been laying up a stock of vice, and practising the worst 
form of hypocrisy in blinding their masters as to their 
pursuits. All they feared was detection. Their moral 
sense had been blunted by the liberty allowed them during 
play hours, which they enjoyed in low pot-houses, if not 
in something worse. As long as their exercises were pre- 
pared their masters cared little about them, for the school 
wanted crack scholars, and morality was quite a makeweight. 
On arriving at college these boys were honoured with the 
title of "men," but were still treated as boys. Certain 
things were forbidden them, and, by the perversity of 
human nature, those were the very things they most 
desired to do. 

It seems to me that the art of logic has been diverted 
to many curious purposes at Oxford, else I could not under- 
stand how it is legal to drive a gig, while a tandem entails 
rustication, or how a beaver is quite allowable at Head- 



INJUSTA N0VERCA. S 

ington, while it is punished by a fine in the "High." 
The system pursued by the proctors leads to falsehood, and 
the most moral youth, by force of example, becomes in- 
different to truth. Facilis descensus Averni ! 

Charles Dashwood was a brilliant example of the bless- 
ings of college education. He had come up from a public 
school with a valuable exhibition and a perfect library of 
prizes. The head master had predicted for him a splendid 
career at Oxford, and, at the time we first make his ac- 
quaintance, he was rapidly on the road to ruin. Oxford 
life is so pleasant to a Freshman, and the feeling that you 
can satisfy every luxury without an immediate appeal to 
your pocket is irresistible. His father, a retired officer, 
scraped together eighty pounds a year at the expense of 
the rest of the family, and this, with the exhibition, he 
fondly hoped would amply provide for his darling son. 
It just paid his college bills and battels, and allowed him a 
run up to town when he thought proper; but, in the mean- 
while, his name was entered in every tradesman's book. 
The amount he owed his tailor would keep the folk at home 
for a year. How it was to be paid was a mystery to him 
whenever he thought on the subject, and that was only 
when he felt very seedy from a debauch. Micawber-wise 
he trusted that something would turn up, and, in the mean- 
while, increased his debts. His stock of Latin and Greek 
was rapidly diminishing, for the only time he took up a 
book was at lecture, and he found, with some surprise, that 
he had great difficulty in passing his " little go," although a 
year before he would have laughed at the examination. In 
a word, he had become a thorough Oxford man, one of the 
most useless and noxious animals in existence. 

I am afraid that my hero (for such Charley Dashwood is) 
•will prove no favourite with my readers at present, but 
fortunately he will not remain an Oxford man during the 
whole of his career; if so, I would throw down the pen in 
disgust. 

The wine party had by this time reached that state of 
excitement when the confinement of college was unbearable; 
and, as Great Tom was just commencing his solemn peal, 
there was a sudden picking up of caps and gowns for the 
sake of saving the gate. They rushed out in a body, and, 
after calling at various publics and drinking large quantities 
of beer, they slipped one by one up a dark entry, and 
soon found themselves in a billiard room, of which the 
windows were hermetically closed; for, had the proctors 



WILD OATS. 



been aware that their rules were so audaciously infringed, 
the consequences would have been serious to all parties. 

But, though billiards is a game at which a considerable 
amount of money can be lost in a short time, it did not 
appear sufficiently fast for my young friends. They retired 
into a small back room, where cards were produced and 
lansquenet commenced. Charley was remarkably lucky; 
he held the bank several times in succession ; and when 
the party broke up, warned by the billiard table keeper that 
it was on the stroke of twelve, he was a winner of nearly 
eighty pounds. There was then a rush back to college, 
no time being allowed for breaking windows on the road, 
and they succeeded in getting in just as the clock was 
finishing striking. Had they been one second after twelve 
they would have been pulled up the next morning by the 
dean, and probably " gated" for the rest of the term. As it 
was, they had to pay two shillings and sixpence apiece to 
the porter, and all was in order. Such is the value of a 
minute sometimes at Oxford, where generally time is re- 
garded as the most worthless of God's gifts. 

But the evening's amusements were not yet concluded. 
As there would be no fear of listening or prying scouts 
after the sacred hour had struck they began gambling 
again and drinking heavily. Charley, however, could not 
be induced to join them. He was "down in the mouth," 
as they classically termed it; and, though lie drank hard 
to keep his spirits up, it was of no effect. While the rest 
were playing, and swearing at intervals in a manner which 
far surpassed " our army in Flanders," he retired moodily 
to a corner and took up a book. It proved to be Toe's 
wild and fantastic stories, in which be grew deeply in- 
terested; but at length it fell from his hands, and he sank 
into a brooding reverie, such as, I trust, few of my readers 
have ever known. 

As in a mirror rose up all the sins of which he had been 
guilty — the opportunities neglected; a fond father deceived; 
his loving sisters at home so proud of his success, and 
anticipating the brilliant position he would hereafter 
achieve for himself. Then his thoughts reverted to his 
tender mother, who had so lovingly patted his head when 
he sate at her knees reading some marvellous fairy romance, 
and had hoped that he would grow into a good man — poor 
soul! she had no doubt about his becoming great. And of 
her last words to him as she lay on that bed of sickness 
from which she never rose, " Charles, comfort your poor 



INJDSTA NOVEROA. 5 

father when I am gone. I know you will protect your 
sisters, for they have no one to look to but you." Then 
that ghastly hour recurred vividly to his miud when the 
consciousness gradually came to him that his mother was 
really dead; his frantic clutching at the looking-glass, for 
he had read that persons have been considered dead, and 
their existence has been proved by a faint breath on a 
mirror; then the dreadful morning, chill and rainy, when 
his mother was borne to her last home, himself and his 
father the solitary mourners ; of the difficulty he had to 
induce his father to come home, aud his vain attempts to 
comfort one " who refused to be comforted," till he reminded 
him there were others left to be a mainstay to him in his 
great affliction. 

On all this he thought with agony ; of the high resolves 
he had formed to follow his mother's exhortations to the 
letter ; how he would read hard, aud fight the rough 
battle manfully till he had achieved fame and fortune for 
himself and family. The future loomed mistily before 
him, but the glowing sun of hope dispelled the cloud veil, 
and he saw himself rewarded for his labours : who can 
say by what? His Helen, too, the first object of his young 
affections, whom he had fallen in love with Werther-like, 
and who felt so proud that Charley had condescended to 
her — Charley, who was to be so great a man, while she 
had no prospect before her save the dreary life of a 
governess ! 

And now what was he? He gnashed his teeth as he 
thought of the past and of the present. With his great 
abilities he had lowered himself to the level of his com- 
panions, and had wasted his time and energies by becoming 
a drunkard and a gambler. The image of his Helen had 
been almost obliterated by the foul society to which he had 
fallen a too willing victim. Even the locket she had given 
him with her hair, and which he had worn round his neck, 
was now buried in his desk; for had he not yielded to the 
sarcasms of the worthless woman who had jeered him 
about his bread-and-butter love ? 

But was there any mode of escape? Must he not still 
remain three years in that accursed web of folly and ex- 
travagance which encompassed him like the garment of 
Nessus? He had not the moral courage to break through. 
He felt that he could not endure the gibes of his friends, or 
that odious idea of being regarded as a "sap." There waa 
no escape ; he must go on from bad to worse ; then,. 



B WILD OATS. 

hang it, why think about it any longer? It was not his 
fault, but that of the system; so with a loud shout of 
" Seven's the main ! " he rushed to the table, and soon be- 
came absorbed in the excitement of hazard. Luck still 
adhered to him. He played madly and won, till at last 
the company ceased playing, for there was no prospect 
of fortune turning, and their pockets were quite ex- 
hausted. It was a rule among the fraternity that no 
I O U's should be allowed; for the risk they ran of 
detection, and consequent expulsion, rendered them averse 
from any system of credit among themselves. That they 
left to the tradespeople. With the break up of the party 
Charley was a winner of one hundred and forty pounds. 

The change from the stifling room to the cool quadrangle, 
with the moon lighting up the exquisitely carved chapel 
front, and almost quenching the light still burning in some 
belated student's apartment, renewed the depression under 
which my hero was suffering. In fact, though he was un- 
aware of it, he was on the eve of an attack of delirium 
tremens. The wonder is that the disease is not more 
common at the universities ; but it is only averted at the 
expense of health and constitution. All the excitemeut 
roused by play faded away, and he wearily ascended the 
staircase leading to his rooms. The oak was sported, and 
on entering he found the remains of the "wine" encumber- 
ing the tables, while a disgusting smell of stale tobacco 
and doctored wine hung about the room. He threw the 
windows open, and, on turning round suddenly to light the 
lamp, he found, to his great surprise, that he was not alone. 
Some one was seated in the arm-chair — a stranger evidently. 
So far he could distinguish; but the features were concealed 
from observation in his hands. Still the figure seemed 
strangely familiar to him, and suddenly it struck him that 
it was his father,. But what could have brought him there 
at that hour? He had not written to say he was coming. 
Good God ! what had happened, and why did he remain so 
motionless ? 

Charley rushed forward to welcome him, but at this 
moment the stranger stood up, and he recognised his 
father's features. He looked so stern, and yet so sad, that 
Charley did not dare address him. For an instant they 
stood gazing on each other, till Charley, by an irresistible 
impulse, moved forward. His father angrily raised his 
hand as if to strike him, and, as Charley involuntarily 
shrunk back to evade the blow, the figure disappeared. 



IMJUSTA KOVEECA. 7 

My hero tried to reach the door and scream for help, but it 
was in vain. He had hardly taken two steps when he fell 
prostrate, and all was as a dream. 

When the scout came in to call his master for chapel 
and bring the letters, he found him lying in the same 
position, his stertorous breathing alone evidencing that he 
still lived. A doctor was hurriedly summoned, and after a 
protracted bleeding Charley was restored to consciousness. 
His first words were, " The letters — give me the letters ! " and 
he frantically clutched and tore open one in his sister's 
handwriting. His worst fears were anticipated. It was 
as follows : — 

" Deaeest Chaeles, — For God's sake come home at 
once. Father has been suddenly taken ill after receiving 
a letter, and Dr. Snow says there is no hope for him, so 
come at once to your broken-hearted sister — Jane." 

With a faint cry of " Dead, dead!" Charley fell back again 
on the sofa, and lay lost to consciousness for hours. When 
he awoke he was still weak and dizzy from the shock, but 
he felt that his presence at home was absolutely necessary, 
and he must make the exertion. By that night's mail he 
hurried up to town, and thence to the village of Birchmere, 
where he was anxiously awaited. The money he had won 
by gambling would be of the greatest use to him, for he 
knew that his father would have had but little in the house, 
and he determined to put it to a worthier purpose than the 
meditated trip to the Derby. 

The death of his father was a heavy blow to my hero, 
for that he was dead he had not the least doubt after his 
nocturnal visitation. He did not conceive for a moment 
that it was merely an illusion engendered by his own 
dissipation and gloomy thoughts. He regarded it as a 
solemn warning sent from above, and if it serve to put 
him on the right path we have no right to cavil at bis 
superstitious ideas. Let philosophers write as they will, 
and prove almost to demonstration that such spectral 
\isitants are impossible; that, even allowing that a man 
may revisit the glimpses of the moon in a spiritual form, 
his clothes cannot appear as ghosts to confirm his presence 
— still the belief in spiritual manifestations will be held 
even by the wisest and most thoughtful of men. My hero 
had not as yet puzzled his brains with auy such abstruse 
subjects. With him the visible was the real, and he 
solemnly believed that for some wise purpose his father 
had appeared to him. Hence, too, he was struck with a 



8 WILD OATS. 

feeling of awe that his father's last gesture should have 
been one of menace, and he was conscious that he had 
fully deserved it. But the thought that his father had 
quitted the world in anger with him depressed his spirits, 
and he would have made any sacrifice could he but recall 
him for a moment and entreat his forgiveness ; but it was 
too late. 

And such seems to be our lot through life. We always 
think that time will be granted us to make up any family 
quarrels, and appease the insulted feelings of relations. 
We gradually grow callous to the promptings of our hearts, 
and laugh off any better feeling. When the blow has 
fallen, when a beloved relation has gone from us for ever, 
we weep bitter tears at the remembrance of our short- 
comings ; we long for a moment in which to display our 
penitence ; we make the most earnest resolves to take it 
as a warning — and in nine cases out of ten we go on just 
the same, as soon as the feeling of regret has been worn off 
by renewed contact with the world. 

In his present state of mind Charley Dash wood was 
admirable. The frivolity and vanity of Oxford life appeared 
to him in their true colours, and he bitterly regretted the 
error of his ways. He resolved that he would act as a 
father to his orphan sisters; he would sedulously strive 

■ But his meditations were suddenly interrupted by a 

voice from the other corner of the railway carriage. 

" Can you tell me, sir, at what time we shall reach Birch- 
mere? I am in haste." 

" What, madam, are you going to our little village?" 

" Yes, certainly ; I am anxious to see Captain Dashwood 
immediately on most important business." 

A shudder was the only reply Charley could make for a 
minute. At last he mustered sufficient strength to answer, — 

" I fear, madam, your journey will be in vain. My poor 
father is dead. Yes, I am sure he is dead " 

" Good heavens ! then you are his eldest son, Mr. Charles? 
I am too late, and my journey is in vain. He will never 
learn the secret." 

" As my father's representative I shall be willing to 
afford you any service in my power." 

" No, no, no, I tell you. 1 wished to see Captain Dash- 
wood : my business was with him. My poor mistress, 
what will she say ? What can I do ?" 

For the rest of the journey the unknown kept up an im- 
penetrable reserve; nor could Charley, who was beginning 



BIRCHMEEE. ft 

to grow interested in the mystery, induce her to open her 
lips. On the train arriving at Bircbmere he offered to 
assist her from the carriage, but she replied that she had 
changed her mind; she should go on to Wilmington, and 
there await further instructions. With this they parted, 
and Charley, more and more puzzled, went up the village 
to his now desolate home. 

But before I ask you, reader, to accompany him thither,, 
we had better take a peep for ourselves at the secluded 
village, and try to make ourselves acquainted with various- 
facts which will throw light on Charley's present position 
and prospects. 



CHAPTER II. 

BIRCHMEEE 



Biechmeee, as all my readers know (for it has recently 
become a fashionable watering place and hydropathic- 
establishment, presided over by a Dr. von something), is 
one of the prettiest villages on the south coast. The 
scenery is a charming combination of wood and water, 
only to be found in perfection at home, and the sea is only 
at a few miles' distance. To this retired spot Captain Dash- 
wood had carried his penates soon after leaving the army, 
and had brought up his family respectably and comfortably. 
He had purchased a few acres of land and built a cottage, 
where he spent his time and his money in various agri- 
cultural schemes, while Mrs. Dashwood was engaged in 
making up his losses by the pursuance of strict economy. 
Here two children were born to him after our hero; they 
were both daughters, and their mother had devoted her best 
energies to giving them the best education in her power. 
She was no contemptible linguist and musician, and, had 
it not been for her failing health, they would have been 
fitted by birth and education to move in any circle of 
society. Unfortunately their mother was taken from them 
at that critical age when study is just beginning to be 
regarded as a pleasure instead of a duty, and, the com- 
pulsion being removed, they had pursued their studies in a 
desultory and unsatisfactory manner, the best, however, to> 
adapt them for governesses in our present forcing system. 



10 WILD OATS. 

Captain Dash wood had through life been an unfortunate 
man. Younger son of Sir Amyas Dashwood, who had been 
yromoted to the baronetage for his diplomatic talents, he 
had been brought up in expectations which were never 
destined to be fulfilled. At an early age he had obtained a 
commission in the artillery, and had behaved like most 
younger sons, by incurring debts which could only be liqui- 
dated by the death of his father. Tbis event at length began 
to be regarded as his only safety-valve, and hence he soon 
felt indignant at his father cumbering the earth so long and 
so unnecessarily. An ill-feeling grew up between them, 
which the baronet never forgot, and he determined on 
punishing his son even after his own death. When Cap- 
tain Dashwood had reached the mature age of forty he de- 
cided on leaving the army and marrying ; and, as he pos- 
sessed a magnificent income of ^£150 per annum, of course 
he selected a woman whose only dowry was her virtue. 
This widened the breach between the parent and son ; and, 
although Sir Amyas was compelled, through his own pride, 
to double his son's income, he never would receive his 
daughter-in-law. 

Things went on in this unsatisfactory manner for two 
years. The Dashwoods were well known in all continental 
towns where the English most do congregate : they were 
always engaged in making their income do double duty, and 
it was only the birth of Charles which for awhile saved the 
Captain from utter ruin. He possessed a considerable taste 
for play, which is the natural outlet for all ambitious men 
in the army, who feel disgusted at the nothingness of their 
life, and he gratified it to a pretty laige extent. Post-obits 
were soon discovered to be a capital way of raising money, 
and the prospects of Captain Dashwood were beginning to 
look gloomy in the extreme when his father died. 

On opening the old man's will it was found that, while 
the elder son was left =£20,000 at his absolute disposal, the 
younger only received a reversionary interest in .£10,000, 
payable on the death of his mother, and the interest for 
life on £'5000, which was settled on Charles, my hero. But 
this again was fettered by a stringent clause: so soon as 
Captain Dashwood deceased, the interest of the £5000 would 
revert to the present baronet, and the principal would not 
be Charles' until his death. Such a scheme for the pro- 
spective advantage of lawyers was never before concocted; 
but it must be remembered that Sir Amyas made his own 
will, and we all know what sort of client he had. 



BIECHMEEE. 11 

Captain Dashwood was bitterly disappointed, the more 
so, probably, as be felt it was in a great measure his own 
fault ; but that did not cause him to refrain from very 
violent language at home, to the great horror of his wife. 
But he was most enraged against his brother : they had 
not met for five years, and on the last occasion they had 
quarrelled fearfully. People whispered about a woman who 
bad proved false to both; it was even said that they were 
on the point of fighting a duel across a table bad not some 
persons interfered. His name was never mentioned in the 
family, and nofte of the children had ever seen him. The 
baronetage taught them that be was H.B.M. Envoy at 
Gurkenhof, and they knew no more. 

But the Captain had no long time to speculate on his 
wrongs : his Hebrew creditors were down on him, and he 
found himself forced to dispose of his reversion to satisfy 
them. All that was left of the wreck was ^2000, which he 
invested in land and in building a house at Birchmere, 
where he retired in disgust from the world. He devoted 
himself to agriculture, and teaching his children as they 
grew up around him the hollowness of the world, and if 
they did not become utter misanthropes it was owing to that 
strong innate affection which causes us to think well of our 
fellows, until bitter experience has taught us that the world 
is composed of two great classes, the cheaters and the 
cheated. 

But in the Captain's bouse there was a skeleton cup- 
board : he suddenly gave way to the most unaccountable 
fits of depression and gloom, which his children were un- 
able to dissipate. During his wife's life, it is true, these 
fits were few and far between, and were generally dis- 
sipated by a trip to the continent; but when she was re- 
moved be seemed to give way to them voluntarily. For 
days he would remain shut up in his study, and his chil- 
dren, when they dared peep in, saw only that he was en- 
gaged in reading a number of letters grown yellow with 
age, over which he would weep bitterly at one moment, and 
then break out in the most furious execrations. 

I have forgotten to mention, however, that on Mrs. Dash- 
wood's death the family circle was increased. The Captain 
disappeared mysteriously a few weeks after the funeral, and 
returned with a little girl of twelve years, who was intro- 
duced to the children as Helen Mowbray, and who soon 
grew a favourite with them all. They were taught to re- 
gard her as a sister, and she was the life of the household. 



12 WILD OATS. 

She alone could draw the Captain from his bitter fits of 
gloom and render him sociable. 

The children employed all their cunning to discover 
Helen's antecedents, but could find out nothing, simply 
from the fact that she had nothing to tell. She had been 
at school as long as she could remember in a convent near 
Brussels, and had never seen any one but her father, as she 
called Captain Dashwood; while the only mother she had 
known was Sister Ursula, who used to give her cakes and coffee 
when she visited her room. So they gradually grew into 
the habit of looking on her as a sister, till progressing years 
taught Charles that his feelings were of a different nature. 

At the time my story opens, Helen Mowbray was just 
eighteen, endued with all the charms and graces of that de- 
licious age. To describe her is impossible, so I would ask 
my male readers to summon up their own ideal of feminine 
beauty : the loveliest of them all would only be a faint pre- 
sentment of my darling Helen. There was a charming air 
of gravity about her, which formed an admirable contrast 
witli her pouting lips, that looked as if " some bee had stung 
them newly." But this gravity was only real when she 
thought on her position, and the ignorance in which she 
was sedulously kept with reference to her parentage. Al- 
though she could effect so much with Captain Dashwood, 
this secret was kept inviolable ; no coaxing, no tears could 
prevail on him to tell her who she was, or how he had be- 
come her guardian. It was, however, but rarely that Helen 
gave way to such gloomy thoughts; she was treated as a 
daughter, and, in the happy confidence of childhood, fancied 
that things would always go on in the present satisfactory 
state. 

The remainder of the family consisted of the two 
daughters, Jane and Susan, who were now seventeen and 
fifteen respectively. I have already alluded to the state of 
their education, and at present have but little more to say 
about them : time will show whether they play any import- 
ant part in the story. They were strong, healthy country 
girls, possessing that beaute du diable which leaves room 
for much conjecture as to whether the owners will turn out 
eventually handsome or ugly. They liked riding about the 
country, and were not particular as to their mount. If the 
ponies were engaged they would put up with donkeys, and 
generally preferred catching them off the common, without 
much regard as to their being the property of others. 
They had been brought up to feel an intense pride in their 



BII1CHMERE. 1:J 

ancestry, and to regard with due reverence the family coat- 
of-arms, which was hung up, framed and glazed, in the 
paternal study, and a still greater degree of pride, were that 
possible, in their brother Charley, the future baronet (for 
Sir Amyas was unmarried), who was destined to raise the 
family once again to an exalted rank. They were good- 
hearted, good-tempered girls, ready to make any sacrifices for 
others, even to the disappointment of not having a new 
bonnet when they thought they required it, in the thought 
that the money was being devoted to their brother. Let us 
sincerely hope that contact with the world and its cares 
will only develope their excellent qualities. 

The death of their father, so unexpected and startling, 
was the first severe shock they had received ; for it brought 
them at once into collision with external affairs, with which 
they were not fitted to cope. It is true that the elder girl 
had recently taken the place vacated by her mother as 
manager of the household ; but her domestic education had 
been confined to consultations with her father as to dinner, 
aud giving the requisite orders. As to method or regu- 
larity she was lamentably deficient, for Captain Dashwood 
was far too wont to let things take their course : he paid his 
bills without scrutiny, and as long as the money lasted he 
probably could not have hit on any better plan to keep things 
quiet and his daughters in ignorance. 

When the blow fell, and they found themselves brought 
so roughly into contact with a pitiless world, the helpless- 
ness of these poor young creatures was truly painful. It may 
be evidenced in the fact that they placed their sole reliance 
in the presence of their brother, whose arrival they anxiously 
awaited. He was to be as a second father to them, and 
they trusted that his nineteen years would assume the 
gravity befitting so responsible a position. In her first feel- 
ing of despair Jane had written to her uncle, and was waiting 
longingly and yet fearfully for the answer. To her, biassed 
by home traditions, he appeared in the light of a domestic 
ogre — a devourer of other men's property — a cause of an- 
noyance and grief to her dear father. She felt that she must 
appeal to him in their present strait, and yet she feared that 
he might be induced, through a feeling of affection, to come 
and see them in their affliction. 

The first moments of Charley's arrival at home were de- 
voted to that natural sorrow which affects us at the death 
of a near relative, but which among youth is so evanescent; 
and then the young representative of the family began to 



14 WILD OATS. 

look matters clearly in tlie face. For this purpose a mes- 
sage was sent off to Mr. Worthington, the family lawyer, 
who came down from town at once to look after affairs, and 
see what could be done for the family. Mr. Worthington 
was a capital old fellow, wore a frill, and took snuff from a 
gold box, with a stereotyped shake at the frill to remove the 
dropped snuff; but he was himself the father of a family, 
and took a strong interest in the orphans. He very decidedly 
pooh-poohed all the suggestions Jane made about their keep- 
ing on the house ; said there would be time enough to at- 
tend to that when the will was read, " though," he said, 
" your army gentlemen are not much given to making wills; 
they think they 're going to live for ever because they haven't 
been killed on the battle-field;" and gave it as his deliberate 
opinion that they had better bring him a bottle of the old 
port, which would help him to think over matters at his 
leisure. 

But the shrewd lawyer was mistaken for once. The Cap- 
tain had made a will, although the notion that he was going 
to live a very long time was prominent enough in it. On 
reading it was found that Captain Dashwood had calculated 
on his son's education being completed, for he left him no- 
thing but his blessing. The girls were to have the proceeds 
of the estate, when sold, fairly divided between them ; while 
Helen was left a plain gold ring and a locket, which the 
Captain always wore next his heart. The trustees were Mr. 
Worthington and Colonel Dacre, an old friend and fellow 
officer, who were earnestly entreated to take charge of the 
girls' property, although the Captain added, in a sort of 
epistle general annexed as codicil, that he felt sure his 
dear son would do all in his power to provide for them. 

The funeral was scarcely over, and plans drawn out for 
the sale of the estate, when the long-looked-for letter from 
Sir Amyas also arrived. It was addressed to Charles Dash- 
wood, Esq., for he was the only one of the family he recog- 
nised as being the future representative of the Dashwoods ; 
but I had better quote it as it stands to give a fair idea of 
the writer. 

" Giirhenhof, June 8t7i, 1845. 

"Nephew, — I have received a letter from Miss Jane 
Dashwood, in which she informs me of the death of her 
father, Mr. Charles Dashwood. Permit me to observe that 
I was already acquainted with the fact through the Times. 
I should have thought it your duty to write to me on any 



BIRCHMEBE. 15 

matters affecting the family, and I must therefore inform 
you that in. future I shall take notice of no letters not 
corning from yourself. 

" By the death of Mr. Dashwood I come into possession 
of the interest of .£5000, left to you by your grandfather, the 
late Sir Amyas Dashwood. I am willing to allow you the 
sum of ,£250 a year until you come of age, which will be in 
two years I believe; and then it is possible that, if I am 
satisfied with your conduct, I may take such steps as will 
insure your success in life. You must, however, distinctly 
understand that you have no claim upon me, and that 
implicit obedience to my wishes will be the return I expect 
from you for any steps I may take in your behalf. 
" I am your Uncle, 

" Amyas Dashwood." 

"Pooh, pooh!" said the worthy lawyer, on hearing this 
avuncular missive read ; " tell him you won't have his 
money. He '11 make a slave of you, and as big a scoundrel 
— God forgive me! — as himself, though that would be 
difficult," he added parenthetically. 

These words aroused a great degree of curiosity in the 
family circle, but Mr. Worthington would not satisfy them 
as to the reasons of his remark. He, however, offered 
Charley to take him into his office without any premium, 
and strongly urged him to insure a profession which would 
render him independent of all relatives. But the kind- 
hearted little man could not move Charley. He had golden 
visions floating upon him of wealth and renown, and even 
Helen, who unexpectedly sided with the solicitor, could not 
move him. At last, seeing that Young Wilful, as he termed 
him, would have his own way, though he would repent of 
it eventually, it was decided that the two sisters should go 
and live with him until they came of age, while Charley 
returned to college to complete his education, which the 
lawyer irreverently termed " stuffing his head with a parcel 
of Latin and Greek which wouldn't get him a dinner." 

All that remained now was to decide what should become 
of Helen, and for this purpose it was absolutely necessary 
that a search should be made among the Captain's papers, 
in order to discover who she was, and what mode should be 
adopted to restore her to her friends. Mr. Worthington 
shook his head tremendously, and gave his frill an extra 
amount of oscillation when he heard this suggested by 
Charley ; but the impetuous young man would not listen to 



10 WILD OATS. 

any advice about leaving well alone, and proceeded to his 
research. 

Is there anything more lacerating to the feelings than 
searching through the garnered hoards of a parent — the 
discovery of secrets, mayhap, which destroy that reverence 
which we intuitively feel in a father, and prove that he was 
of the common clay after all? In the case of Captain Dash- 
wood this was not fortunately the result of Charley's search, 
for what he found was calculated to increase the fondness 
lie had ever felt for his father. There were bundles of 
letters, yellow with age and carefully endorsed, "From my 
father," "From my dear Jane," "From Charles." The 
latter contained the naive history of schoolboy experiences, 
written in a bold round text, and full of bad English ; hut 
a father is never a fair judge of his son's grammar. Then 
came his first letters from college, full of glowing hopes, but 
gradually growing rarer, and containing appeals for money. 
Each of these was endorsed with the specific sum sent, and 
Charley was horrified at the amount. He had no idea that 
he could have spent so much, and, yet, never had anything 
to show for it. 

Then came the remembrance thick upon hiin how 
affectionately his father had written to him; how he had 
told him that he would never begrudge what he spent, so 
long as he could supply it, and that his son spent it like a 
gentleman ; the faint remonstrances which came after 
awhile, when his extravagance compelled him to make 
larger demands ; and the hoping against hope the letters 
breathed. But the severest blow Charley sustained was 
in perusing the last letter his father had ever received in 
life. It was from an Oxford livery-stable keeper, inclosing 
an account for ^£150, and requesting payment, because young 
Mr. Dashwood's bills were mounting high, and he was afraid 
his father might be unaware of the fact. Could this have 
been the letter to which Jane had alluded in her frantic 
summons ? Had his father been taken suddenly ill after 
receiving this confirmation of his fears about his son? But 
no, his father had been himself young, and knew that 
extravagance was natural to the Dash woods. He would 
have paid the money, and said nothing to him about it. 
There must be some further mystery not yet discovered. 

Charley had searched through the whole of the letters, 
but had not found those which he knew caused his 
father such anxiety and grief. He carefully examined the 
cabinet, and found, as he expected, a secret compartment — 



BIRCHMERE. 17 

a spring flew back, and a bundle of letters and a miniature 
became visible. He hurriedly seized them, and was about 
to tear off the envelope when he noticed written on it, 
" To be burnt unread on my decease." The sacred feeling 
of obedience was still strong upon him, and he reverently 
laid them on one side and took up the miniature. It was 
that of a lovely girl, and the features struck him as strangely 
familiar, though, for the moment, he could not recall the 
likeness to any one he knew. On the back was merely 
written, "Ida Trevanion to her beloved Charles." This, 
then, was the mystery which had gnawed at his father's 
vitals. What would he have given to read the letters that 
told the dismal tale; but it was forbidden, and he anxiously 
sought for further evidence. 

His eye fell on a letter of very recent date. He ran 
through it, and found some clue, though a very vague one. 
The writer stated that her husband was dead, and that now 
she could summon her daughter to her side, and bestow on 
her all the concentrated love which she had been forbidden 
to display for years. She hoped that lie would now do her 
justice, but self was his ruler. She had written to him, and 
trusted that his feelings would have changed for the better, 
and that he would be prepared to make requital for the 
past. 

With this letter and the miniature in his hand Charles 
now proceeded to the parlour, and asked Mr. Worthington's 
advice. The first glance assured him that he was not 
mistaken as to the likeness he detected in the miniature. 
It was Helen's self, and the reference to the child assured 
him that his Helen was going to leave them. 

But who was the mother? What heart could she have 
to leave her daughter so many years among strangers, and 
then so cruelly rend all the ties which bound her to the 
Dashwoods? There was a trace of affectation in her letter 
which he did not like, and she expressed no thanks for his 
father's past kindness. She seemed to regard it as her due. 
Had Captain Dashwood fallen ill in consequence of the 
threatened loss of his beloved Helen? and could there be a 
closer connection between her and the Captain than they 
were yet aware of? 

All this afforded subject for comment, and the remem- 
brance of the mysterious stranger warned Charley that a 
crisis was at hand, and that the course of his love for Helen. 
was not destined to run so smoothly as he had wished. 

G 



18 WILD OATS. 



CHAPTER III. 

A PASTING- SCENE. 

Ddbino the discussion which had been held between 
Charley and Mr. Worthington, the two girls had been walk- 
ing in the garden with Helen, talking over their town life, 
and speculating as to when they should meet again. Helen 
was fixed in her resolve that she would no longer be a 
burden to her kind friends, and, if her mother forsook her, 
she was able to seek her own living as a governess. 

It is strange, by the way, that our young girls, when ill- 
fortune overcomes them, always see a present prospect of 
relief in becoming governesses. They must be acquainted 
with all the misery attached to such a profession, and the 
peculiar wretchedness of being treated practically as menials, 
although their claim to gentle birth is allowed. They must 
give up every independent feeling, and be at the beck and 
call of a mistress who grudges them too often the food they 
eat, and safely treats them with ignominy which she dare 
not display to a servant. A governess is so dependent on 
the good will of her mistress — compelled to curry favour by 
acts of humiliation, in the knowledge that her future ex- 
istence hangs on the caprice of her present owner (for on 
the character she receives will hinge all her prospect ot 
further employment), she leads a truly wretched life, from 
which she seeks refuge too often, alas ! in the ever-open 
ranks of the traviati. 

My dear Helen was most peculiarly unfitted for a life ot 
servitude of this nature. She possessed a strong character, 
which would enable her to carry out conscientiously any 
engagement she might form, but her native pride would 
not allow her to swerve one inch from the strict line ot 
duty. I do not think she would have remained as governess 
for a week in any family belonging to society as at present 
constituted ; but fortunately she was not aware of this, but 
looked the future boldly in the face, full of anticipation that 
she would be able to support herself honourably until such 
time as Charley would be able to make her his wife without 
her becoming a burden or tie upon him. She was quite 
prepared to wait were it for years. So guileless herself, she 



A PARTING SCENE. 19 

did not for a moment harbour the thought that man is 
naturally fickle, and that delay might grow wearisome te 
her dear Charley. 

She was, in truth, actuated by a strange mixture of an 
tagonistic feelings. While she allowed that Charles would 
have to wait many years for the fruition of his and her own 
happiness, still she could not for a moment endure the 
idea of giving him his liberty again. She felt a foreboding 
that some awful discovery would destroy their promised 
happiness; yet she did not think that she was obliged, in 
consequence, to precipitate the rupture of their engagement. 
She clung to the idea the more firmly when it seemed most 
likely to slip from her possession. 

Still my Helen was very considerably troubled by all 
these speculations, which were not at all calculated for a 
laughing girl of eighteen, and a settled gloom seemed to 
press on her brow, which no affectionate tentatives on the 
part of her sisters could dispel. At times she would strive 
to shake it off, and join heartily in the conversation about 
London delights, which the two girls never left off; but any 
casual allusion would recall the gloom , and her last state would 
be even worse than the first. They were walking for the 
twentieth time up and down the apple-tree walk, wondering 
when Charles would have finished his long consultation, 
and counting the hours which must elapse before they 
separated and quitted the old roof-tree for ever, when Jane, 
looking toward the garden wicket, uttered a cry of surprise. 

"Why, there's a stranger at the gate! Wbat can she 
want? She is looking so hard at us, and yet she doesn't 
seem to belong to the village." 

Any further conjecture was checked by the stranger 
walking boldly up to them and saying: — 

" I need not ask which is Miss Helen Mowbray ; your 
likeness to your mother, my dear, is sufficient for me. Will 
you have the kindness to step here ? I have a confidential 
communication to make to you. You need not be alarmed," 
she added, turning to Jane, who was trying to keep Helen 
back; "I shall not eat her, and if you have any doubts of 
me call Mr. Dashwood. He knows who I am." 

And with a hyaena -like grin, meant to calm Miss 
Jane's apprehensions, but which only rendered them more 
acute, the stranger walked away to the end of the garden, 
followed by her unresisting victim. A lengthened conversa- 
tion then ensued, Jane watching them closely the while, 
under some vague apprehension of she knew not what, 



20 WILD OATS. 

when the mysterious stranger handed Helen a letter, which 
she tore open and read eagerly. She wept bitterly on 
perusing it, but soon grew calmer, and then walked rapidly 
past the sisters, saying as she did so, " Yes, I must see 
Charles at once." 

Helen did not stop till she reached the parlour, where 
the two gentlemen were still consulting as to whether she 
should obey the maternal mandate which they rightly ex- 
pected would arrive shortly. When Helen entered the room 
they were not surprised, although Charley had hoped for 
more time. It was evident, therefore, that her mother was 
a woman of decision, and this augured ill for his own love 
matter. 

"Charley — Mr. Worthington — the die is cast!" said 
Helen on entering the room ; " my mother has sent for me, 
and I must obey her." 

"Pooh, pooh!" ejaculated Mr. Worthington, "there's 
no such hurry. She has been long enough in sending for 
you, so she can afford to wait a little while. And pray 
what is your mother's name, if I may ask ?" 

" The letter is signed ' Ida Leblanc,' and is dated from 
Paris. Her waiting-maid has brought it, and wishes me to 
start by the mail train to-night, as my mother is so anxious 
to see me." 

"Pooh, pooh! Leblanc? I ought to know that name. 
Let me see — yes, of course. M. Leblanc wanted me to 
bring an action against — certainly, and I threatened to 
kick him out of the office. Well, my dear, I wish you joy, 
that 's all ; but if you '11 take an old man's advice you 'II 
not go to Paris, however much Lady — I mean Mrs. Leblanc 
may desire it. Come to London with me, and if you are so 
resolved to become a governess, I daresay I can get you a 
situation you '11 like." 

Now, it is a curious thing that Mr. Worthington should 
have twice tried to set young people against their lawful 
guardians, which seems to indicate some moral perversity. 
His character, however, stood high professionally and other- 
wise, so we can only assume that he had good reasons for 
liis suggestions. But he was fated to fail in both instances. 
Helen's heart yearned for her unknown mother, and she 
was firm in her resolve to obey, whatever might await her. 
Mr. Worthington was very angry, and could only be pacified 
by a bottle of the old port. Helen left the room to make 
the necessary preparations, while Charley took an oppor- 
tunity of whispering in her ear, " Meet me at the bower in 



A PARTING SCENE. 21 

an hour's time." A gentle inclination of the head, and she 
was gone. During the hour, which seemed to Charley of 
unending length, Mr. Worthington hegan to thaw under 
the influence of the port, and a little judicious cross-ex- 
amination would probably have drawn some valuable 
information from him ; but Charley did not take advantage 
of the opportunity. He was lost in vague dreams about his 
future Oxford life, and the different position he would now 
assume as heir to a baronetcy , and the honour this would give 
him in the eyes of his creditors. Then his uncle could not 
live very long, and the £5000 would do to set him up in 
life. He would marry Helen and purchase a living, for he 
was now bent on domesticity, and really fancied, with his 
chastened feelings, that his proper vocation was the church. 
At length the clock struck five, and as Mr. Worthington 
was repeating, " Well, as I was saying, this Mounseer 
Leblanc — — ," he jumped up, and rushed from the room, 
greatly to that worthy gentleman's surprise. 

Charley was first at the trysting place; but he had not 
been able to finish his cigar ere Helen joined him. Not 
having bad any occasion to complain against the dila- 
toriness of woman, he was consequently in an excellent 
humour, and put on that patronising and condescending 
tone which we all are apt to assume when we know that a 
woman loves us. But Helen was in no humour to notico 
this. She had been crying bitterly, and the traces of the 
tears positively made her look ugly, which Charley was 
ungrateful enough to feel annoyed at, and begin some sar- 
castic remarks about women being able to cry at command ; 
but Helen soon checked them by saying: — 

"And do you think, Charles, that a parting like this 
ought not to make me sorrowful? I am going away from 
all I hold so dear, and who have been such true friends to 
me, to join a mother whom I cannot remember to have 
ever seen — perhaps to exchange happiness for misery; 
but it is my duty to obey," she added passionately. 

" Come, come, my little woman, don't take it to heart &o 
much. We shall not be parted for ever. I shall be of age 
soon, and then we shall be married of course." 

" Oh, Charley, you don't know all! I have not told you 
yet about my last meeting with my guardian. He had just 
received that odious letter which was the cause of his 
illness, and he called me into his study. He told me that 
he was afraid we must soon part, and that his dear child 
would forget him, and then he would have nothing left 



22 WILD 0A1S. 

on earth to love him. He said that you were indulging 
in expenses beyond his means, and that you had been 
guilty of deceit toward him, which he felt bitterly after all 
his kindness to you ; and then he made me wretched by 
adding, ' Sharper than a serpent's tooth is a thankless 
child.' I spoke in your defence. I said that you loved 
hirn dearly; that you might be thoughtless, but I was sure 
you were not bad. He looked at me strangely, and then re- 
marked, 'And this, too! I did not expect that ' He 

then seized me roughly by the hand and said, ' Tell me, girl, 
you do not love that worthless boy of mine — other than 
as a brother I mean ? ' He must have read in my blushing 
face a confirmation of his worst fears, for he gasped for 
words, and tried in vain to speak. A frightful convulsion 
crossed his face : he tottered and fell. It was that awful 
fit, from which he never recovered." 

" Well, dearest, but did he say nothing to explain the 
reason of this sudden attack?" 

" Alas ! he never spoke again. When on his dying bed 
he sent for me, and tried to speak. When it was in vain he 
motioned for writing materials, and a slate was brought 
him. He wrote faintly and with great difficulty, ' You 

must not, dare not, mar ;' and the pencil fell from 

his hands. A few hours later and he was taken from 
us." 

A silence ensued, during which Charley called to mind 
all the agonising thoughts which had occurred to him on 
the discovery of the miniature and the letter. Could it be 
possible that Helen was his sister? Could she be branded 
with the sin of a father, and was she the hidden offspring of 
illicit passion? But this could never be: his father had 
been so honourable and just in all his actions, that he- 
would not have kept so dark a mystery concealed. He 
would have told him the truth, and not allowed him to 
grow up in love for Helen without a word of warning. 
Poor boy! he had not yet learned the truth that "con- 
science makes cowards of us all," and that the best men are 
prone to neglect making compensation for wrongs they 
have done to society until the time has slipped away, and 
that fatal "too late" Lars the door to repentance. But 
Charley was quite old enough to take refuge in a mezzo ter- 
mine, which in his mind was represented by " wait and 
hope." Hence he was the first to break the ominous 
silence. 

" Well, dearest, I must confess that your story has startled 



A PARTING SCENE. 23 

mo. I can now understand that awful vision; but there 
may be secrets yet undisclosed which will materially affect 
oar position. By all means, then, I advise your going to 
your mother; you may learn much from her as to the rela- 
tion iii which she stood to my poor father. We are both 
of us young, and time must elapse before our marriage can 
be accomplished. I have much to do. I must make my 
way in the world, and prepare a home for my dear little 
wife." 

" Ah, Charles ! I fear that our dreams will never be 
realised. The dead seem to rise between us and forbid our 
union. But one thing I will promise you, Charles — you 
shall ever be to me as a brother." 

"Brother! What care I for so cold a relationship?" said 
the impetuous young man ; then, with an outburst of natural 
selfishness, he added, " Promise me one thing, Helen — that, 
whatever may happen to separate us, you will never marry 
without my consent." 

" I do heartily," said the poor young girl, offering herself 
a willing sacrifice to the egotism of man ; " I will strive ta 
conquer this feeling of depression, and hope that happier 
days may yet be in store for us. Take this ring," handing 
him the one Captain Dashwood had left her; " it cannot be 
in better keeping than yours. When you look upon it you 
will remember your poor Helen ;" and here the natural out- 
let of tears checked her speech. 

" Well, my dear girl, I feel that everything will turn out 
for the best, so give me a kiss, you little goose, and then 
go and finish your packing up." 

With these words Charley lit another cigar, and walked 
up and down the field in deep thought. There is something 
so pleasant in knowing that the affections of a loving heart 
are irrevocably ours, that any obstacles which arise only 
heighten the piquancy of our sensations. Helen was all 
his own; he felt certain she would keep her word whatever 
might betide; so this lord of the creation felt not the 
slightest compunction at offering up this poor victim on the 
altar of his egotism, but rather fancied he was displaying 
his own disinterestedness by voluntarily entering into such 
an engagement. 

My lady readers will probably find considerable fault 
with this love passage, because the most necessary ingre- 
dient of such a scene appears to be absent without (their) 
leave; but in my character of a truthful historiographer I 
am bound to present the reality. It would have been an 



24 WILD 0AT3. 

easy matter for me to have depicted a heart-breaking scene 
of lovers' tears and sighs, and a fine prospect of virtuous 
misery; but I am sorry to confess that such, or of such na- 
ture, was the parting interview between my hero and heroine. 
I trust, however, that before this veracious story terminates 
I may have an opportunity of piling up agony sufficient to 
satisfy the most insatiable devourer of circulating library 
pabulum. 

By eight o'clock Helen had made all her preparations for 
departure. She had given some slight tokens of affection 
to the two girls, and received others in return. Of course 
there were many tears shed on this mournful occasion, but 
they were dashed with a spice of feminine envy, and, there- 
fore, were not from a perennial fount. What swearing is to 
men crying is to women, and in all cases is decidedly more 
honoured in the breach than in the observance. Mr. 
Worthington was the last to take leave, and thrust a neat 
little pocket-book into Helen's hands. 

"Pooh, pooh," he remarked as Helen tried to utter her 
thanks; "there's something in there which will be your 
truest friend when you find a stay in Paris impossible. And 
remember, girl, that as long as I live you will have a home 
to go to; so hide that pocket-book in your bosom, and don't 
let that foreign thing of a waiting-wench have a peep at it, 
or else she '11 impound it, mark my words." 

And so they parted, the young lover manfully trying to 
choke his tears in a very guttural " God bless you," as he 
took leave of Helen at the railway station, and then gulp- 
ing down his sorrow in a very stiff glass of brandy and 
water at the Red Lion ; Helen in the meantime speeding 
to town by an express train, and employing the most inge- 
nious and yet most transparent devices to draw her com- 
panion into confidences. But there never was such an in- 
valuable servant as Julie, so far as discretion was concerned. 
Nothing could be drawn from her save a parrot-like " All 
in good time," with which Helen was at last forced to put 
up, and resign herself to speculations about the future, 
which the present did not array in the brightest colours. 

At Birchmere the requisite preparations were speedily 
made for the sale: the few articles selected which the family 
wished to retain as remembrances of the past, the rest were 
confided to the care of the country auctioneer. Then came 
a round of leave taking, a kind farewell given to the few 
poor pensioners of the family, and a trifle bestowed to soften 
down the parting. But Mr. Worthington was growing impa- 



A PARTING SCENE. 25 

tient; he had a foreboding, he said, that things were not 
going on right at the office ; he made repeated reference to 
an old proverb about the behaviour of the mice when the 
cat is absent; and his fidgety pooh-poohing drove every one 
to despair and frantic exertions to get the business settled 
at once, that he might return to town and relieve them from 
his restlessness. 

The day of the sale arrived too soon for the family. It 
was bitter to reflect that cherished articles were going into 
the possession of strangers, and Jane had a desperate wordy 
warfare with the little lawyer before she could be induced 
to give Tip various impedimenta, which she fondly thought 
she could carry to London with her. The neighbours 
behaved kindly enough. They ran up the prices of many 
things merely for the sake of benefiting the orphans, and 
even old Miss Snaggs, who was popularly supposed not to 
have a good word to throw to a dog, and who visited every 
sale on principle without ever making a purchase, found 
herself, to her great surprise, owner of a full-grown plaster 
cast of Apollo, which she did not know what to do with, but 
eventually reconciled to propriety by having him dressed in 
an old suit of clothes of her uncle's, and putting hmi out in. 
the garden as a sort of amateur scarecrow. 

The very tradesmen of Birchmere unanimously expressed 
their regret at the breaking up of the old family. It is true 
that they would be considerable losers by it, for Captain 
Dashwood had not followed the fashion of the neighbouring 
gentry, and ordered everything from London. Still I will 
give them credit for a worthier motive. They really re- 
gretted the departure of the family for a day, and then fell 
to speculating what they should make out of the new owner, 
who was a retired tradesman from Wilmington. 

The girls were soon settled in Mecklenburgh Square, 
where they received a hearty greeting from Mrs. Wortliing- 
ton, and speedily found themselves at home. There was 
only one son, who devoted his leisure hours to playing the 
flute, and was generally an estimable young man, much 
given to Exeter Hall concerts, and proud to conduct the 
young ladies to public places of amusement. Here I will 
leave them comfortably installed, and turn to the conduct 
of my hero, who certainly was not evidencing those strong 
principles of reform which he had vowed should henceforth 
be his guiding star. 

In excuse it must be urged that he was for the first time 
his own master. He had more than £1.00 still left from his 



26 7, X OATS. 

gambling gains ; so, inaleai ct going down into Wales, as 
he said, to wait the remainder of the " long," and read 
hard, so soon as his sisters and Mr. Worthington were 
fairly under weigh he followed them to town, but took care 
to put at least three miles of solid brick and mortar between 
himself and Mecklenburgh Square. While they were at- 
tending Exeter Hall and other cheap popular amusements, 
he was becoming well known at the Star and Garter or 
the Crown and Sceptre. He made some extremely valu- 
able female acquaintances, who were very willing to be his 
temporary companions, and he spent his time, in short, very 
agreeably, if not very profitably. Still he kept from play. 
He could not be induced to accompany his old chum, 
Harry Darcy, to that little crib in Jermyn Street, with its 
artfully contrived turning fireplace to burn the cards, and 
the spout to sink the dice into the sewers, when the police 
impertinently forced their way in. Keally I think he is to 
be commended for displaying such self-control. 

To make up for this deprivation, however, my young 
friend thought he was justified in indulging all the other 
-vices incidental to young English gentlemen of birth and 
fortune. Perfectly ignorant of the value of money, as he 
never had been forced to earn any for himself, he scattered 
it broadcast, to reap a plentiful crop of headaches and ante- 
prandial remorse, for which the only cure was bitter beer. 
By the time the long vacation was at an end his purse was 
much in the same condition, and after calling at his uncle's 
bankers, and finding that satisfactory arrangements had 
been made for the payment of his allowance, he started from 
London in company with Miss Kosalie St. Clair, the gem of 
a transpontine ballet, whom he located at Abingdon, as a 
means to fill up the great gap caused in his heart by the 
absence of his Helen. 

Tn this satisfactory company we will leave him, and see 
what that dear girl is doing while thinking her Charles 
is the pattern of fidelity, and renewing each night her mental 
tows of obeying his wishes. 



MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 27 



CHAPTER IV. 

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 

In a dirty fauteuil in a still dirtier bedroom sat Madame Ida 
Leblanc, dipping her roll in her coffee, and engaged in deep 
thought. To any one seeing her now it would have been 
difficult to recognise the well-conserved lady who dispensed 
her smiles and her suppers so bountifully to all strangers of 
fortune who visited Paris. In fact, Madame underwent a 
daily metamorphosis from the grub to the chrysalis. During 
the morning she rested from her labours, and, as soon as 
she had quitted her bed, sank into the arm-chair, which 
was comfortable, although dirty — perhaps because it was 
so. Here she smoked a cigarette, and read highly spiced 
and exceedingly improper novels. A suspicious bottle, bear- 
ing an etiquette " sarsaparilla," but smelling strongly of 
brandy, suggested that the lady was subject to spasmodic 
attacks, which could only be relieved by applications to the 
beverage produced by that benefactor to humanity, Dr. 
Jacob Townsend. 

But at the present moment Madame Leblanc had more 
important matter on hand than novels. Her daughter had 
arrived that morning, but had not yet been admitted to see 
her. Julie had been cross-questioned closely as to the 
aspect of matters atBirchmere, and the report she gave was 
certainly deserving of reflection. The strong affection Helen 
felt for Charles Dashwood had not escaped her all-observant 
eyes, and her mistress was engaged in speculating on the 
probable result this discovery might produce for her own 
interests. 

"Well, well," she said, "perhaps it's all for the best 
that the Captain died without learning my great secret, for 
now I can work on his son, and mould him to my purposes 
through his love for Helen. As for a marriage between 
them that's all stuff and nonsense. My girl will look far 
higher than a mere baronet. Besides, I intend a foreign 
husband for her. But I shall be able to maintain a strong 
hold over her by my knowledge of her heart secrets.and her 
love will help to keep her out of mischief. She can't be my 
daughter unless she tries to learn wisdom betimes. I 



28 WILD OATS. 

wonder whether I can make her of use, though, in our 
innocent little schemes for winning from the green young 
men ? I am afraid she will be straitlaced : that 's the 
worst of those English people, with their stupid notions of 
honour forsooth ! Where should I he, I should like to 
know, if I had always studied honour?" 

The expression of Madame Leblanc's face as she uttered 
the last pleasing sentiment was simply frightful, for it was 
evident that she did not believe in the truth of her state- 
ment. Try to hide it as they will, even the worst women 
regret their past sins at times, and would give worlds to 
recall them. But this soon wore off as the lady meditated 
some fresh scheme which seemed to amuse her excessively, 
for she clapped her hands, and began a loud laugh, which, 
however, produced such a violent fit of coughing that she 
became a ghastly object, and Julie flew in to her assistance. 
Madame Leblauc, however, angrily motioned her away, 
and, as soon as the fit was over, inquired, — 

" Who 's in the drawing-room?" 

" Only Monsieur le Comte, milady." 

*' Where 's Miss Helen ?" 

" She has gone out, milady." 

" Good God ! what will people think at seeing my daughter 
alone in the streets of Paris? Oh, we must break her of 
these English fashions ; they will ruin everything. Her 
face is not to be gazed at so cheaply, for she is beautiful, 
Julie, hein ?" 

" Almost what I can remember milady at her age," was 
the arch reply. 

" Vat-en, cnnaiUe!" milady responded with a playful tap, 
but evidently greatly delighted; "but, Julie, we must stop 
such proceedings. Send her here as soon as she comes in; 
or stay, she had better not come in here. Send Marie to 
dress me at once, and I will go into the drawing-room." 

And so soon as Julie had quitted the room this strange 
compound of evil and an infinitesimal quantity of good fell 
on her knees, and began praying fervently before a crucifix. 
After a large amount of culpa mea's, mea maxima culpa s, 
she got up, apparently vastly relieved at having reconciled 
lier conduct and her conscience, and proceeded to dress. 
This was rather a tedious operation, and while she is making 
herself up to be presentable, and venting her spite on poor 
Marie with the handle of a brush, we shall have lime to 
turn over a page or two of her past life. 

Ida Trevanion, in spite of her aristocratic name, was the 



MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 29 

daughter of a tradesman, and a belle of country quarters in 
Ireland. On the death of her father she came in for some 
little money, and lived with a maiden aunt as a pattern of 
the strictest propriety. Beautiful as she was she was he- 
sieged by officers, many of them meaning in all sincerity to 
marry her ; but she remained deaf to all their oaths. At 
length, however, she met with her match in Captain Dash- 
wood, with whom she fell passionately in love. By him the 
passion was returned with equal earnestness and much 
greater sincerity. He would even have gone to the extreme 
of folly by marrying her at once, and running the risk of 
being disinherited, but she had prudently refused to join in 
any such mad scheme. Her caution kept her virtuous, 
and there seemed no prospect of their immediate mar- 
riage, when Captain Dashwood's battery was ordered to 
Canada. 

A year later and Miss Trevanion carried out a long- 
desired wish to travel on the continent. She set out with 
her old aunt, and never returned. No one knew what had 
become of her, and she was not heard of for years, until she 
suddenly emerged in Paris as the wife of M. Leblanc, a 
notorious gambler and turf man. Many old friends flocked 
around her as soon as her salons were thrown open, and it 
was whispered that Ida Leblanc was not so cold to lovers' 
vows as Ida Trevanion had been. That is, however, so 
common a thing in Paris that none except the straitlaced 
English ladies paid any attention to the rumour, and, so long 
as M. Leblanc found no reason to complain, the public felt 
bound to close their eyes and ears. Madame's salon became 
notorious as being one of the pleasantest in Paris, aud 
every young English milord made a point of procuring an 
introduction. High play was carried on there, but dis- 
creetly, as befits respectable society, and Madame was fre- 
quently found playing eoarte, in which operation she could 
display an exquisitely-modelled arm. If a young man's 
eyes were so entranced that he did not notice how often she 
marked the king it was his own fault. 

Several years passed away. Madame spent her summer 
at Baden, her winter at Paris, and, I have no doubt, laid by a 
very comfortable nest-egg. She was not one of your greedy 
adventurers who begrudge a small outlay, although certain 
of regaining it cent, per cent. On the contrary, her suppers 
were lavish, and the quantity of champagne consumed 
would have gladdened the heart of His Majesty of Prussia. 
M. Leblanc discreetly attended to his horses and bets, while 



SO WILD OAXS. 

his wife managed the domestic affairs, and " all went merry 
as a marriage-bell." 

Two untoward events, however, happened almost simul- 
taneously : the death of M. Leblanc, highly deplored by a 
numerous clientele of jockeys and sharpers, and the gradual 
evanescence of Madam e's beauty, from late hours and 
dissipation, which no cosmetics and rouge could entirely 
conceal. To supply the first gap was simple enough. M. 
le Comte de Crucbecassee was promoted to fill M. Leblanc'? 
place without any tedious marital rights or connubial rites, 
and milady determined on recalling her daughter, whom she 
had allowed Captain Dashwood to bring up. She had 
heard great accounts of her beauty, and hoped that, by some 
judicious training of her own, she would soon be enabled to 
act as lure to young men, and prevent the very unpleasant 
necessity of shutting up the salon. 

How Captain Dashwood had become guardian to her 
daughter was simple enough. After Ida Trevanion's first 
lapse from virtue (though events will possibly prove that it 
was the result of calculation rather than of confiding inno- 
cence), she had written a pitiable letter to her betrayed 
lover. She had described herself as utterly destitute, and 
compelled to leave her little daughter to the care of 
strangers. She asked nothing for herself; she deserved worse 
than she had already endured for deceiving the best and 
kindest of men ; but her helpless child should not suffer. 
She felt confident that her Charles, whom she still loved so 
dearly, although an insurmountable barrier was raised be- 
tween them, would not allow her Helen to starve. There 
was a good deal more in the same strain, and Captain Dash- 
wood was foolish enough — for which I have no doubt my 
readers will blame him sincerely — to take compassion ou 
the child of sorrow, and place her at the Minorites' Con- 
vent. But he committed two more foolish actions; he 
tried to conceal the circumstances from his wife, although, 
of course, she knew all about them, and drew her own con 
elusions, not very favourable to her husband's morality ; 
and, secondly, when he brought the girl home, he neglected 
to explain matters to his son when at a proper age, which 
might have prevented much subsequent unhappiness. Al- 
though so fond of Helen, as a portrait of her mother, to 
whom he was still madly attached with all the concentrated 
strength of a first love, his pride would not allow him to 
ihink of a marriage between her and Charles; and the know- 
ledge of their attachment, added to the thought that his 



MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 31 

Helen would be taken from him, and the last tie broken 
which bound him to her mother, brought on that fatal ill- 
ness which has left the family matters in their present un- 
satisfactory condition. 

By this time Madame has completed her toilette, and, 
wrapping a very magnificent Cashmere shawl about her, 
she prepares to leave the bedroom. It is wonderful what 
effect dress and attention have on some people, for milady 
is hardly to be recognised for the dingy, dowdy woman we 
lately saw reclining in the fauteuil. A modest grey moire 
antique dress, trimmed with perfect taste, and apparently 
so simple, although it had cost some thousands of francs, 
harmonised admirably with her somewhat worn counte- 
nance, and the rouge had been laid on with a master hand. 
She must not frighten Helen at starting, and was prepared 
to play the part of a high-bred English mother. 

On entering the salon the first object that presented it- 
self was Monsieur le Comte lounging on a sofa, and tap- 
ping his boot-heel with a gold-mounted riding cane. He 
jumped up with great gallantry on the lady's appearance, 
and was going to kiss her cheek, but was prevented by an 
almost imperceptible gesture, which proved how admirably 
he had been trained. 

" No, my friend, we must be cautious ; we must not 
frighten the child just at present. I will make her regard 
many things as resulting from foreign manners and fashions ; 
but you and I must be careful that she notices nothing be- 
tween us which can give rise to conjecture. Her eyes will 
be opened only too soon I am afraid." 

The Count bowed profoundly and resumed his seat, while 
the lady continued : — 

" I am afraid that Helen will be profoundly gauche for 
the present, and will talk French with a horrid English 
accent. I shall look to you, my dear Count, to correct 
these failings. For the present our family circle must bo 
restricted. There are but few young men of wealth in 
Paris, and I would not throw her beauty away on the lower 
classes. I depend on her to restore the fortunes of my 
house; and if she be so handsome as I am told, and so like 
what her mother was at her age " — and here the lady gave 
a glance, half smiling, half mournful, at the mirror — "I 
entertain no fear as to her success." 

The Count bowed again, while the lady paused to draw 
breath, and she then continued: — 

" What I shall do with her I cannot yet decide. Perhaps 



WILD OATS. 

or you will never create the sensation I desire. Gauche 
comme une Anglaise must not be said about my daughter. 
But I am tired now ; go to Julie, my love. She will inspect 
your wardrobe, and give the requisite instructions to the 
dressmaker, for I suppose you have nothing fit to wear in 
our society." 

So saying, and languidly extending her hand for her 
daughter to kiss, Madame Leblanc fell back in her cushions 
with a sweet smile of satisfaction at the consciousness that 
she had fulfilled her duty perfectly as a mother. The door 
vas hardly closed before she turned triumphantly to the 
Count and exclaimed, — 

" Well, old friend, she will do, will she not? I am never 
deceived in my estimate of a woman. I feel sure that 
she v;iU obtain more than a succes d'estime. She will create 
a perfect excitement among our young men. But now to 
prepare for action. You, my dear Count, must go and give 
a flaming account of her to all your friends, and bid Sir 
Willoughby to come to me at once. Not a moment must 
be wasted. We must work upon her while she is lost in 
astonishment at her new mode of life, and then it will be 
an easy task to bring her over to my views We shall dine 
at six. Au revoir." 

The Count punctually fulfilled his mission as far as Sir 
Willoughby was concerned, and that gentleman soon ap- 
peared to lay " the evidence of his devotion at the feet of 
the fair widow," as he gallantly remarked. Sir Willoughby 
Crofton was one of a band of honourable men well known 
on the continent. He had been the proprietor of a large 
estate and of a long rent-roll when he came of age, but had 
soon lost them by a fatal passion for play. He had gone 
down the various rungs of the social ladder, and had now 
degraded into a bonnet at Madame Leblanc's hell. But 
even she only kept him out of charity, and on account of 
his old name, which was an excellent decoy for the Smiths 
and Browns, who dearly love a lord ; otherwise he was 
useless, for he was given to the bottle, and his right hand 
had forgotten its cunning; but in the morning no trace of 
this was perceptible except on very close observation. He 
was the picture of a perfect English gentleman — neat, 
closely shaven, and fond of a blue coat with bright gilt 
buttons. Even those who were aware of his character were 
indulgent to him, on the principle that he was nobody's 
enemy but his own. Hence was he now summoned to 
milady's confidence. 



MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 35 

" You know, I believe, the young Marquis of Lanciug. 
He is staying at the Hotel Windsor. He arrived the day 
before yesterday," she added, after a reference to an ivory 
carnet. " I shall expect you to bring him here to-morrow 
night. Tell him, as an inducement, that you can show him 
the loveliest woman in Paris. Oh, no ! I do not mean my- 
self, but my daughter, who has just arrived from England. 
That bait will be sure to tempt him. And, Sir Willoughby, 
if you bring him you will find Mr. Smoothley here, and you 
can play ecdrte with him all night if you like. I had re- 
served him for myself, but I shall not play at present ; and 
I cannot entrust him to safer hands than those of my most 
amiable coadjutor." 

The Baronet muttered his thanks and brightened up per- 
ceptibly at the prospect; for, as he confessed, his finances 
were running rather low, and his agent had unaccountably 
omitted to remit him his rents. He was perfectly well 
aware that milady knew that any rents he continued to re- 
ceive must be from the moon, but in decent society these 
little harmless apologies are requisite ; so Madame Le- 
blanc begged to be allowed to be his banker, and Sir Wil- 
loughby quitted the house by twenty louis richer than when 
he entered it. These little expenses she regarded as bad 
debts, which she made her good customers pay with com- 
pound interest. 

The remainder of the morning was spent by the lady in 
receiving various visitors, who professed to pay a morning 
call, and imparted valuable information at the same time 
about strangers who had arrived in Paris. They were of 
every description, from a marquis of the vieille souche down 
to a little abbe, who took care of her soul, and had an extra- 
ordinary knack at inventing new tricks with the cards. All 
gave their information, and all were variously rewarded; 
some with money, others with gracious smiles and invita- 
tions to dinner. At length, when the roll call seemed to be 
exhausted, there came a discreet system of taps at the outer 
door, and Madame jumped up and opened it with a profu- 
sion of bows. 

The gentleman who entered was apparently the most 
harmless visitor of the number. Nothing about him re- 
vealed the fact that Madame's luxurious existence depended 
on him ; but it was so. He was an official of high stand- 
ing in the secret police, and received a percentage on all the 
earnings of Madame Leblanc. As soon as he had seated 
himself on the sofa close to Madame's side, he produced a 



32 WILD OATS. 

I may reserve her for a wealthy marriage ; and, in that case, 
I need not tell you, Count, this house must he given up. 
Nay, do not look alarmed," she added laughingly, on no- 
ticing the Count's glance of blank dismay; " it would not 
be for long. As soon as my daughter was settled I should 
return to my old mode of life, which possesses extraordinary 
fascination for me. However, there will be no harm in her 
seeing a little of our society : it will put her on her guard, 
and her novitiate will soon be over. Before all, she must 
be a woman of the world, and not, like her foolish mother, 
yield to the emotions of her heart. If I had but had such 
a mother as she has to guide me through the quicksands of 
life, I should not be the wreck I am now." 

" And yet, Madame, it is a wreck which would tempt the 
cupidity of many," said the Count with a devouring glance. 

" Basta! we have no time now for compliments ; besides, 
we know each other too well. Reserve them for Mdlle.de 
la Fourberie, to whom I saw you paying such devoted atten- 
tion the other night. Nay, do not think I am jealous; I 
sive you full leave to excite a sensation where you can. 
You remember the conditions of our treaty : full liberty of 
action for the high contracting powers, and a strict main- 
tenance of the status quo ante. I even give you entire 
liberty to try your powers of captivation on Helen ; it will 
prove a good lesson for her; but remember," she added 
with a menacing finger, "it must be in all honesty. I can 
be a dangerous enemy, and I doubt whether Jacques Cretaut 
would like to drive me to bay. You see I know more about 
you, my dear Count, than you supposed. I like to be 
acquainted with all my friends' amiable weaknesses. It is 
surprising what good stead they stand me in. But hush, 
here comes my daughter;" and the amiable lady, fulling 
back on the sofa, assumed a stereotyped smile, while the 
Count, utterly overwhelmed by her knowledge of himself, 
walked to a window, and looked moodily out. 

"Kiss me, my child," said Madame Leblanc, affection- 
ately offering her cheek to Helen ; " I have longed for this 
moment of happiness, which has been too long delayed. 
But tell me, how was it that you have been abroad so early 
and alone?" 

Poor Helen ! this was a sad falling off from her ideal 
dreams of a mother. She had yearned for this moment of 
meeting ; she would have rushed into her mother's bedroom 
that morning had not the ever- watchful Julie prevented 
her; and she had sought some relief for her overwrought 



MOTHEE AND DAUGHTER. 33 

feelings by wandering in the Tuileries gardens, which 
could be seen, with their delicious verdure and gaily dressed 
groups, from the drawing-room windows. 

" This must not occur again, ma chere," said the mother 
with a smile, as she surveyed her daughter's charming face, 
suffused with blushes at the rude glances which the Count 
bestowed on her. " Such beauty as yours must not be left 
unprotected in the streets of Paris. Monsieur le Comte 
will be proud to be your companion when you desire fresh 
air." 

And she pointed to the gentleman as if to a poodle, and 
he carried out the illusion by fondling and dancing round 
poor Helen in a manner expressive of his delight at being 
her cavalier, while his shrugs and grimaces were perfectly 
astounding to the pure English girl. 

"And now tell me, dearest, how have you left the 
amiable family at Birchmere? All well, I trust. The 
death of poor Captain Dash wood must have been a sad 
blow. Well, I daresay we can make up for your affliction. 

And your adorable Charles Nay, do not blush; I know 

all about it." 

"Oh, mother!" was all Helen could gasp out, so out- 
raged did she feel at having her heart secrets so rudely laid 
bare before a stranger. 

" Nonsense, little babe," Madame went on; " the Count 
is the friend of the family. I have no secrets from him, 
and, for heaven's sake, drop that horrid ' mother. Surely 
we need not let all the world know what relationship exists 
between us. If you are already provided with a husband, I 
have not given up all hopes of a successor to M. Leblacc, 
and such a daughter as yourself will make people fancy me 
an old woman." 

Helen was more and more amazed at the manner in 
which her mother talked to her. Fortunately, she could not 
understand one half of her allusions, but still she felt 
instinctively that there was something wrong. She had 
been brought up in such an inartificial manner that she 
could not realise the fact of there being mothers who feel 
annoyed at their daughters' age. It is evident that she had 
much yet to learn — equally evident that she had come to 
the best school to learn how to pluck the bitter fruit of the 
tree of knowledge. But her mother soon began again : — 

" I need not ask you what your French accent is. It 
must be deplorable ; but we can remedy that by means of 
masters. Your^ose, too, is atrocious. You must be drilled, 



36 WILD OATS. 

pocket-book, and began whispering in that subdued tone 
peculiar to detectives, who seem to deaden their very 
tongues in list. 

" Let me 6ee, on Monday you gained 4000 francs from 
Colonel la Grange, and 370 francs from Alphonse Dela- 
motte. By the way, you must give that young man a hint not 
to come here too often; his gredin of a father has been com- 
plaining to the police that you keep a common gambling- 
house, and seduce unwary students to play. 1 stopped the 
inquiry; but you must be careful at present. Then on 
Wednesday Monsieur Green, your compatriot, lost 1745 
francs to you, without counting eighteen louis d'ors to that 
Count of yours: total, 6120 francs, of which 612 are my 
share. Many thanks, Madame; I see our accounts exactly 
tally." 

" I have often felt surprised at the accuracy of your in- 
formation, although you appear so rarely here." 

" Have you ?" he replied, with a comic glance of surprise ; 
" it is very simple. Although I perfectly believe in your 
honour, Madame, still you might make mistakes uninten- 
tionally, which would desolate me. I should be unworthy 
of the exalted post I hold under His Majesty if I could not 
discover what goes on in a salon so distinguished as yours. 
You will pardon my warning about that Alphonse; but our 
interests might be gravely compromised. A thousand thanks, 
Madame." 

And he was gone as mysteriously as he had appeared. 
With his departure a sudden change came over Madame Le- 
blanc : all her energy appeared to have deserted her, and 
she sank back on the sofa perfectly helpless. She touched a 
handbell on the neighbouring table, and Julie glided in like a 
sh ado w with a 1 ittle bottle, from which she poured several drops 
of a dark liquid on a lump of sugar, which diffused a sicken- 
ing smell of laudanum through the room. Her mistress ate 
the sugar, and then fell back on the sofa, heart-weaned and 
exhausted by the constant strain to which her nerves were 
subjected. 

In the meanwhile, Helen was holding very important 
conferences with the modiste and the waiting-maid, and I am 
obliged to allow that, although she was essentially a strong- 
minded girl (not in the Bloomerian sense of the term), her 
feminine vanity was considerably excited by the gay patterns 
exposed before her. What she would want with half a 
dozen new dinner dresses at once was a profound mystery 
to her ; but she wisely trusted to Julie, feeling confident 



DEMI-MONDE. 37 

that the omniscient waiting-maid was the best judge in such 
matters. 

As soon as this business was settled she retired to her 
bedroom, which was a pattern of neatness and propriety, 
forming a striking contrast with her mother's slatternly 
chamber, and began writing an interminable letter to her 
Charles, crossed and re-crossed till it would require a lover's 
microscopic eyes to decipher it. This ended, she prepared 
for dinner, and felt rather ashamed of her dress, which 
seemed to her very plebeian after the recent display. How- 
ever, she comforted herself with the reflection that they 
should dine strictly en famille. The evening terminated 
with a visit to the Opera Comique, and, although Helen 
received strict injunctions to keep well back in the box, 
and not let herself be seen, still she saw enough to tell her 
that there were less pleasant places than Paris in the world. 

As for the unfortunate letter, it was truly a love's labour 
lost : it wandered about the country after Charley, and at 
length reached him one fine morning, just after he had 
returned to his lodgings with the morning's milk. Sick 
aud dizzy when he arose, and found it lying on his table, 
he tried to make it out, and then angrily threw it from him. 
In the afternoon it was confiscated by the maid of all work 
when she tidied the room by making confusion worse con- 
founded, and formed the subject of her investigations over 
her supper beer. After various migrations from rag shops 
to buttermen it at length appeared in a cheap periodical, in 
the midst of a thrilling tale of love and madness. As I 
daresay it was as absurd as the majority of young ladies' 
love letters, I am only glad that the poor devil of an author 
got hold of it while encircling a pat of butter, and was 
enabled to convert it into a comforting beefsteak and pot of 
porter. 



CHAPTER V. 

DEMI-MONDE. 



M. Alexander Dumas, jun., one of those rare instances in 
literature when a clever father has been surpassed by a 
cleverer son, owes much of his popularity and a large pro- 
portion of 'his fortune to a comedy well known by the title 
of the Demi-monde, in which he brands with the hot iron of 



88 WILD OATS. 

his sarcastic powers a class of women who are becoming 
dangerous nuisances and pests to society in Paris. They 
arrogate to themselves the powers of Aspasia, without pos- 
sessing one tithe of her ability; but ministers are happy to 
sit at their feet, and discuss state policy and state secrets in 
their presence. Sedate boursemen have yielded to the wiles 
of these Phrynes, and grant them a share of their gains. 
In fact, they had become an imperium in imperio, and had 
begun to elbow respectable women off the trottoir of society. 
The evil was beginning to grow unendurable, and M. Dumas, 
like a modern Curtius, leaped into the breach, prepared to 
die by the needle points of his offended countrywomen. 

Strange to say, the ladies were not at all annoyed at this 
bitter attack upon them, and, while the peches a quinze sous 
passed into a proverb, these estimable ladies thronged to 
the theatre, and applauded frenetically this bitter sarcasm 
on themselves. The age must be in truth impure when 
the castigat ridendo mores fails so entirely of its effect. 

At the time of which I am writing, however, these ladies 
had not begun to interfere in state matters. They were cer- 
tainly given to dabble in the funds, but the universal cor- 
ruption which branded the later years of Louis Philippe's 
reign rendered this very venial. It was reserved for his 
successor to found that golden era in which adventurers 
alone can prosper, and, even when rogues fall out, honest 
men do not get their due. 

The Napoleon of peace, as the poor old king was flatter- 
ingly termed, although later events proved that his policy 
was anything but Napoleonic, and had the Bourbon curse 
corrupting it at the base, thought that the universal canker 
which preyed on society must be humoured. He would not 
apply any violent cautery, for he imagined that his throne 
was most secure when the people were engaged in intrigue. 
Hence such salons as Madame Leblanc's flourished magni- 
ficently, and persons were present at her soirees whose 
names gave her stability. It was naturally assumed that, 
when dukes and marquises did not hesitate to attend ber 
petits soupers, and pay her for the entertainment injudicious 
flattery, the middle classes might safely accept her invita- 
tions. Hence her rooms were always crowded on reception 
nights, and nothing revealed outwardly the rottenness of 
the system on which the splendid fabric was raised. 

But, though so successful as regarded the male portion of 
Parisian society, Madame Leblanc was often sadly in a 
dilemma as to the class from which to select her feminine 



DEMI-MONDE. 39 

guests. Somehow or other, any lady who went once was 
always engaged elsewhere when she received a second invi- 
tation, and, though everything was done with a proper 
regard to the bienseances of fashionable life, that innate 
instinct of women which may be regarded as a sixth sense 
led them to shun Madame Leblanc's rooms so long as they 
had any regard for their character. 

Madame Leblanc had struggled long and vigorously 
against this moral repulsion. She was not accustomed to 
acknowledge defeat, and she made the most tremendous 
exertions to overcome the scruples of her lady friends. 
At length, however, the victor of a hundred fights was 
forced to confess to herself that she must move the first 
step down the ladder. For her schemes the presence of 
women was an absolute necessity. Young men of fortune 
would not visit her for the sake of play alone; but given the 
attraction of young and pretty women, and the rest would 
follow in the natural order of things. Hence she was com- 
pelled to seek recruits among the widows of the grand 
army; and her rooms soon resounded once more to the 
merry laugh of charming women, and the shares of the 
Leblanc bank went up to a premium. 

It was surprising with what alacrity countesses and 
baronesses accepted the invitations issued by Madame. 
They had no false pride about associating with the wife 
of a turf man, and condescended to drink the champagne, 
which she dispensed so liberally, with charming unanimity. 
After all, perhaps, they answered the purpose better than ladies 
of the higher classes; and even supposing they were not 
the chosen vessels of society, and might be flawed slightly, 
still the crack was so cleverly concealed by flowers and 
wreaths, that he would be a churl indeed who stopped to 
examine them too closely. It is true that the conversation 
became at times as sparkling as the champagne, and if 
indulged in to excess produced a moral headache; but the 
effect soon passed off, and all joined in praising the luscious 
flavour which distinguished both. 

On the night when Madame Leblanc intended to open, 
the first sap in the heart of the susceptible Marquis of 
Lancing but few ladies were invited, and those chiefly 
selected as foils to Helen. Madame would have been an 
excellent bouquet composer, if we may judge from the talent 
she displayed in assorting the flowers which were to serve 
as a setting to her own lovely garden rose. But she did not 
trust to Helen's beauty alone : all that art could supply to 



40 WILD OATS. 

bring out her beauty was lavishly employed, and the mother 
was forced to confess that Helen was more lovely than she 
had herself been in the days of her county ball triumphs. 

No preparations were made in the salon for the expected 
guests further than that the grand chandelier was lighted. 
Madame was too good a judge to employ gas ; she knew 
that very few complexions could stand such a glaring trial ; 
and, besides, Helen had too much of the English girl still 
about her, in the shape of rosy cheeks and stray freckles. 
But the wax candles were not spared; they cast a glorious 
light over the room, and brought out in strong relief the ex- 
quisite and yet so simple arrangements which characterise 
French drawing-rooms. Madame Leblanc, I must give her 
the credit to say, was a thorough Frenchwoman as re- 
garded taste, and improved it by a due admixture of English 
solidity. 

The first guest to arrive was a grey-headed old French- 
man, who had been an emigre during the revolution, and 
still talked English from predilection. He was an amiable 
old man, slightly a frondeur with the present government, 
but not so foolish as to break with it and lose a small ap- 
pointment he held. He was much struck with Helen, whom 
Madame Leblanc introduced as her daughter by her first 
husband, Colonel Mowbray, and relieved her feeling of 
bashfulness by talking to her in English. Of course he 
paid her very florid compliments, or he would have been 
false to his country; but he was a positive relief to 
Helen after that odious Count, who would look at her so 
fixedly and be so distressingly polite. 

By degrees the rooms filled ; some of the gentlemen began 
playing, while others surrounded the ladies ; and Helen, to 
her great regret, was summoned from the side of the amusing 
old gentleman to be introduced to the lion of the evening, 
Milord Lancing. There was nothing very alarming about 
him, however. He was a delicate, boyish-looking man, who 
seemed not to have long given up toffy, and his conversa- 
tion was of that sweet insipid character which is apparently 
the predominant feature of the British aristocracy. It was 
very evident that he was one of those almond tumblers of 
society, whose bills have grown so soft by in-and-in breed- 
ing that they cannot pick up their own peas, but have to 
be spoon-fed. 

Still the Marquis displayed his taste by an evident admira- 
tion of Helen, and had Charley been present I do not think 
he would have been ^leased at the affectionate manner in 



DEMI-MONDE. 41 

which Helen responded to him. She was to be pardoned ; 
the poor girl had never spoken to a real lord before, and she 
yielded unconsciously to that besetting admiration for titles 
which is peculiar to every " man and a Briton." Even if he 
did appear very troubled with his r's, and give way to an 
amiable lisp, which rendered his remarks rather more diffi- 
cult to follow than those of a two years' child, still that was 
pardonable: it was not to be expected that a nobleman 
should trouble himself about common English. 

After some lengthened conversation, for which Helen sup- 
plied the majority of material, some of the ladies proceeded 
to the pianoforte, and began singing some ofthose magnifi- 
cent bravuras which seem to a vulgar mind composed of an 
interminable series of oh's and ah's. After awhile some 
clever songs succeeded, not in the purest taste, but which 
the gentlemen applauded somewhat noisily. Fortunately 
Helen was not sufficient French scholar to understand 
them. The Marquis then pressed Helen to sing, and with- 
out any affectation she allowed him to conduct her to the 
piauo, where she sang one ofthose quaint oldEnglish ballads 
which are so charming, because they are heard so rarely in 
the present age and mania for Verdi and the hermaphrodite 
Italian school. 

Helen was endowed by nature with a magnificent organ 
— a pure contralto — which she employed in the way de- 
signed, and did not spoil by a variety of roulades and vocal 
fireworks. Hence her singing after the Frenchwomen was 
like listening to darliDg Louisa Pyne after having your 
tympanum pierced by Madame Squallini's head falsetto, or, 
to use a somewhat forced metaphor which is not my own, by 
letting in the fresh forest air into a room which is impreg- 
nated with musk. The French countesses shrugged their 
shoulders, and exchanged glances of pity at such an uncul- 
tivated voice; but Madame Leblanc was delighted at dis- 
covering this new element in her daughter, and still more 
at the visible impression she had made on the Marquis. 

In short, the evening went off admirably. The Marquis 
retired at an early hour, expressing a wish that he might be 
permitted to call and inquire after Miss Mowbray's health ; 
and after this tremendous exertion on his part he went off 
to join a party of young men, and be one of the wildest 
boon companions in some very improper society, the prin- 
cipal incentive to mischief being Ma'mselle Coralie, of the 
Grand Ballet. If the young man had been acquainted with 
all the secrets of Madame Leblanc's establishment he might 



42 WILD OATS. 

have satisfied his craving for excitement at a very much 
cheaper rate, which would have gratified him extremely; 
for, though he loved pleasure, he was considerably more 
fond of money. 

As soon as Helen had retired for the night, and the more 
respectable of the guests had also left, Madame Leblanc's 
salon became the scene of a wild orgie. The most exquisite 
little supper was served up, and under the influence of 
the champagne the ci-devant countesses became veritable 
daughters of Eve. Several literary Bohemians dropped in 
at a late hour, and there was a flashing encounter of wit 
and exchange of quiproquos, which would have gladdened 
the heart of a certain Lawrence Sterne if he could have re- 
turned for a time to this upper world and listened to them; 
of course I mean in an intangible form, for, as an English 
divine, he would have been forced to blush at many of the 
sallies 

Ah me ! those Paris suppers are very pleasant things, the 
more pleasant, perhaps, because we know them to be wrong ; 
but there is something so piquant in seeing women who move 
in respectable society throw off the trammels of convention- 
ality and become true women for the nonce, ready to give 
and take, and prepared to defend themselves against all 
comers in the war of wit. They want no champions to 
take their part; the champagne supplies them with abundant 
stores of missiles, and they fling them recklessly abroad, 
careless where they strike home, or if they hit their dearest 
friend. 

At length, de guerre lasses, and worn out with unex- 
tinguishable laughter, the ladies prepared to retire. Their 
coupes had been awaiting them at the door, and they took 
an amiable farewell of their hostess. They knew perfectly 
well when they should leave the scene of operations, and 
allow Madame to draw the expenses from those of her male 
guests whom she bad chosen to be the paymasters. Sir 
Willoughby had not met with his usual success while en- 
gaged with Mr. Smoothley, owing to an extra bottle of 
wine he had imbibed at dinner: in short, he had been 
cleaned out, and bad taken a sullen revenge on the cham- 
pagne ; so Madame selected Mr. Smoothley as the pre- 
destined victim, and he willingly assented to her proposition 
that they should play one game of eearte prior to the dis- 
persion of the guests. 

The stakes were very moderate at starting, only five 
louis d'ors, and Mr. Smoothley won the first game in a 



DEMI-MONDE. 43 

canter. Madame then rose as if to break off, but Mr. 
Smoothley was far too gallant; he could not think of re- 
fusing Madame her revenge, and they went on playing double 
or quits. It is needless for me to delay with the description 
of the artful means employed to rook him: he was plied 
with champagne, while the Count signalised every trump 
he had in his hand. He lost .£40, being all the money 
be had in his purse, and gave an 10 U for £100 more, 
when Madame graciously let him off any further loss, and 
he was politely bowed out. It was not a bad evening's 
work, take it on the whole, and I fancy I should not mind 
supplying supper and champagne at the same rate for a 
succession of nights. 

At length Madame aud the Count were left alone in the 
salon, and they bad a lengthened conversation on the subject 
of the evening's success. Madame harped on the circumstance 
of the police agent being so intimately acquainted with all 
that went on in her rooms, and evinced an ardent desire to 
detect the spy, while the Count expressed his strong indig- 
nation at such villany, and, indeed, almost betrayed himself 
by his superabundant energy. He too soon left, and on 
the stairs met Julie, with whom he held a hurried conver- 
sation, which terminated in his giving her a very affectionate 
kiss and several louis d'ors, after which the invaluable 
waiting -maid returned to wait on milady, and see her 
safely to bed. 

But Madame was too much excited to sleep, so, after 
dismissing her ministering spirit, she walked up to a scru- 
toire, and took out a bundle of papers, which she carefully 
examined. A flush of triumph suffused her features as she 
at length took up a marriage certificate and muttered, 
" This will revenge me yet. If Helen win the heart of 
that young fool this will prove her legitimacy, and her 
proud father will be brought to kneel in the dust before 
me. Pah! how I hate him! Were he drowning at this 
moment, and I could save him by stretching out my hand, 
I would not do it;" and, with this charitable utterance of 
her thoughts, she went into the next room and prepared 
for bed. She took another dose of her poisonous narcotic, 
and soon fell into a deep stertorous sleep. 

Not long, and the door of the anteroom again opened ; 
the Count and Julie entered with a dark lantern; they 
held a whispered consultation, and then the Count put on 
a mask and drew a sharp Corsican stiletto. He glided up 
to the bed, and carefully unshaded his lantern; but he 



44 WILD OATS. 

had no need to feel any apprehension of being detected: 
Madame Leblanc slept a sleep worthy of the righteous. 
He groped under her pillow for the keys, which soon met 
his hand, and he proceeded noiselessly to the scrutoire. 
This he opened with a practised hand, not a sound betraying 
his movements. It was evidently not the first time he had 
rifled such stores ; but on this occasion his object was not 
plunder apparently, for he counted several bank notes with 
a ravenous eye, but then returned them to their place. He 
soon pounced upon the bundle of papers which Madame 
had been so recently examining, and, holding his knife 
between his teeth, he commenced turning them over care- 
fully, and handing them to his companion for inspection. 
At last his eye fell on the marriage certificate, and he 
hissed, — 

" Yes, Julie, your tale is right. That pale-faced English 
girl is truly the lawful daughter of milord ; she will be a 
prize worth gaining, and she must be mine. Then, Julie, 
we shall be rich, and we can return to our beloved Corsica. 
But these, too, must be mine — all this money which the old 
fool stores up and begrudges her faithful Count — ha ! ha! 
but not now. I must make sure of the English girl first; 
then, then, Julie, we will plunder this store. How milady 
will rave to find that her invaluable Julie has robbed her of 
all!" 

He then restored the papers to their receptacle, and 
carefully closed the scrutoire. With uplifted knife he 
again approached the bed to secrete the keys beneath the 
pillow. At this moment Madame Leblanc moved restlessly, 
as the light gleamed across her eyes from the blade of the 
knife. Had she opened her eyes her fate would have been ir- 
revocably sealed ; but a merciful Providence interposed. She 
fell back into her old position, and time was granted her to 
repent her grievous and manifold sins. Unfortunately she 
never knew, in this world at least, how near she had been 
to death's dooi' ; had she done so she might have reflected 
on the misery to which she was devoting her daughter, and 
have thought that rank was dearly purchased at the price 
of a loving heart. 

The Count and his accomplice retired, and silence fell 
upon the house. All was hushed in deep sleep, except that 
Helen was uttering in her dreams prayers for her dear 
Charles, and fancying somehow that he was the Marquis of 
Lancing. 



THE GENTLEMAN COMMONER. 45 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE GENTLEMAN COMMONER. 

On nis second appearance at Oxford my hero made his 
debut in a far more exalted position. By the express wish of 
his uncle he donned the silk gown and velvet cap of the 
gentleman commoner, and gave up the exhibition to be 
battled for on the paper field by some poor devils who 
had not such brilliant expectations as himself. In truth, 
Charley was recommencing life under very flattering 
auspices. He regarded himself as his uncle's rightful heir, 
and went into profound mental calculations as to the amount 
the old gentleman had probably saved out of his diplomatic 
pickings, which, added to the .£20,000 which Sir Amyas had 
inherited from his father, would enable my young friend, 
as he thought, to play his part befittingly in that station of 
life to which, &c. 

To a young gentleman of Charles' peculiar disposition, 
who was fond of ostentation, and an aristocrat pur sang in 
his tastes and habits, the change which he now underwent 
was delightful in the extreme. Oxford is essentially the 
home of snobbism, and nowhere is it so true "that to him 
who has much, much will be forgiven." An intelligent 
foreigner would suppose that where all are gentlemen by edu- 
cation there could be no class distinction possible, and that 
the young men would of themselves pull down any social 
barrier which the flunkeyism of dons had established. 
But he would lie under a grievous mistake ; and, though 
he might have heard of university reform, the sight of 
that "peculiar institution" which is the disgrace of Christ- 
church — the adherence to the old system of servitors, who 
are branded as social Pariahs because they happen to be 
poor — would soon enlighten him as to the fact that Napo- 
leon the Great uttered a profound truth when he designated 
us as a nation of shopkeepers. The spirit of the age, which 
has effected so much social improvement, and will even yet 
enable Jews to sit in Parliament, is powerless at Oxford, 
and the stolid adherence to old-world regulations which 
compels the servitors to be distinguished from the rest of 
the students by having no tassels to their caps, is worthy of 



10 WILD OATS. 

the age when Jews were forced to wear yellow gaberdines, 
and to which the Earl of Derby would so much like us to 
revert. 

But even in this instance I am happy to say a slight 
sacrifice has been made to public opinion. The servitors are 
allowed, by a sort of tacit license, to wear " beaver " when- 
ever they are obliged to appear in the public streets, and 
the proctors are sufficiently enlightened not to sconce them 
for this infringement of their laws. Were I to write a 
volume on the subject, I could not supply a better argument 
than this to prove the utter fallacy of exceptional laws in 
what should be essentially a republican institution, where 
all men are, or should be, equal in the sight of the schools, 
and talent ought to be the sole criterion by which a man's 
merits should be gauged. But money is the god to which 
all fall down and worship at Oxford, and, so long as that is 
the case, so long will gentlemen commoners and servitors 
exist side by side, but never amalgamate. Common sense 
has already decided the question in the university, and, if 
paterfamilias would like to know the estimation in which 
the silk gowns and velvet caps are held in Oxford, let him 
ask his son, the scholar, what is the name by which an empty 
bottle is generically known at a wine party. 

But these were speculations into which Charley did not 
enter; he calmly took the goods the gods provided, and did 
not stop to inquire by what peculiar merits of his own 
they had fallen to his lot. He dined at the high table, and 
reverently laughed at the jests of the rather greasy dons, 
for " gentle dulness always loves a jest." By this Jesuitic 
conduct he soon grew in their good graces, and began to be 
regarded as a very sensible young man, of whom the 
college expected much. He took his wine in the common 
room, and duly appreciated the fine old port which a gene- 
ration of bursars had spent their otherwise useless years 
in collecting; in short, he was a model gentleman commoner. 

In return for this slight exertion on his part the dons 
behaved to him with remarkable clemency. He could cut 
chapels when he pleased, or whenever a sick headache fixed 
him to his bed. His " seger " was never examined into, and 
if a college tutor, on returning from his constitutional 
ride, happened to meet Charley returning home in pink from 
a run with the hounds, he discreetly went on the other 
side, and took no notice of him ; for he charitably supposed 
that the young man's doctor had recommended violent equi- 
tation as the best remedy for his complaint. 



THE GENTLEMAN COMMONER. 47 

At lectures, when he thought proper to make his appear- 
ance, my hero was never troubled to translate any difficult 
passage by which he would betray his ignorance ; he put 
on the college tutor as his private coach, and was thus 
always fully prepared for " collections," through which he 
passed with credit. My young friend was certainly wise in 
his generation, and, if he benefited by the system of hypo- 
crisy which surrounded him, I do not think he is to be 
severely blamed for it. Now and then it is true that he 
bad an imposition allotted to him for some gross breach of 
lollege discipline, but it was perfectly well known that he 
would pay three half-crowns, and receive it in time from the 
bookseller. A solemn farce was then enacted : he would 
hand it in, the tutor would express his sincere regret at 
having been forced to such an unpleasant recourse, and the 
imposition would be solemnly burned without inspection, 
for that would have betrayed the imposture, and led to an 
unpleasantness which all parties equally desired to avoid. 

"What with steeple-chases, drag-hunts, and frequent visits 
to Abingdon, it may be assumed that my hero did not 
trouble himself much about reading. Like a high-spirited 
youth he left that to the poor fellows who were obliged to 
do so ; and I may here remark that his visions of a country 
living were dissipated by the first hot blast of college indul- 
gence. He thought it unworthy of his talents to bury him- 
self in some obscure rectory, and only emerge from his 
nonentity for a brief period by publishing a volume of 
sermons or a treatise on a Greek particle, which would be 
invaluable to the butterman, but to him alone, and in this he 
was encouraged by all he saw around him. The dons them- 
selves were too wise to exchange their lettered ease for the 
active life and possible privations of a parsonage; they were 
wrapped up in self and old port, and, though acting up 
to the letter of monastic reclusion, they were far from 
obeying its spirit. They fed no paupers at their gate; they 
did nothing to promote education, and relieve the ineffable 
misery of the lower classes; they were thorough drones, 
lazily living on the stores piled up for them by others, and 
only evidenced their existence by an irate buzzing when the 
Town Council tried to bring them under the action of the 
Poor-law Commission. 

The tradesmen, too, did their share to augment Charley's 
self-sufficiency ; he was unanimously decreed to be the 
possessor of a very fine and matured taste, and every picture 
which arrived for sale was submitted to his ordeal. His 



48 WILD OATS, 

rooms were soon encumbered by a variety of very valuable 
engravings, principally of the High Church school. " Straf- 
ford going to Execution,"" Charles the Martyr in the Guard- 
room," an old woodcut of that ecclesiastical Jeffreys, Arch- 
bishop Laud, of sanguinary memory — such were some of 
the engravings which were promoted to fill the place of 
the " Pets of the Ballet" and celebrated racers, which had 
formerly disfigured his walls. This was a step in a better 
direction, and I am not inclined to cavil with him for it; 
but, while the ballet girls quitted the room, the individual 
star retained her lodgings at Abingdon, and that was cul- 
pable, and utterly at variance with Charley's new-fledged 
notions of High Church and friction shirts. 

Charley then took another step in advance by joining 
the " Union." In bis freshman days he had laughed at it 
very heartily, but now he began to see the error of his ways, 
and considered that a course of the Union debates was 
indispensable to prepare him for the exalted rank he was 
hereafter to assume in society. Yi gods, what nonsense 
he did talk! though, perhaps, not worse than the majority 
of unfledged legislators who paraded their reading in that 
unhappy room, and worked up old schoolboy themes with 
reminiscences of Demosthenes and Cicero. The great 
subject of discussion at that period was, " Shall Cromwell 
have a statue?" and the fury it excited was tremendous. 
The adjurations addressed to the sainted shade of the martyr 
king were received with never -failing cheers, while any 
individual who dared to get up and speak in behalf of the 
usurper was regarded as a dangerous character, and shunned 
accordingly. In truth, the Union debates were admirable 
training for men who had to battle through life, and would 
be forced to address themselves hereafter to the practical 
view of history. But this High Church feeling has been 
gradually dispelled since the period I am writing about, and 
railways and Mr. Macaulay have done much to overthrow 
that insane reverence for the past, which can now only seek 
an outlet in credence tables and Tractarian squabbles with a 
latitudinarian congregation. 

But I think I may pass over this phase of Charles 
Dashwood's moral development. He was unconsciously 
laying up a dangerous battery of sophistical arguments 
through his reverence of the created instead of the Creator ; 
and the hold which religion had once upon him, though in 
a very general seuse, I must confess, was being further 
weakened by the idea that it could only be supported in the 



THE GENTLEMAN COMMONER. 49 

nearts of its followers by external symbolism. The develop- 
ment resulting from stone altars and chasubles may lead 
eventually, to rationalism ; at least, I should not like to affirm 
that Charley was the better Christian because he paid such 
reverence to externals. On the contrary, I am inclined to 
believe that his faith was weakened, and he feebly tried to 
prop it up by ostensible reverence, wbile the sanctuary was 
invaded by restless thoughts as to the stability of the 
statue. 

But these considerations do not refer to the present. 
Charles had taken to Tractarianism because it was the 
fashion at this time, but hardly ever devoted a thought to 
the reality of the religion he professed. It was not till 
after years, when he began to find the necessity of a firm 
holdfast on belief to render him a better Christian and a 
better man, that he thought with profound gratitude of the 
escapes he had had from the awful pitfalls of infidelity in 
which the pride of intellect had threatened to overwhelm him. 

These slight hints will be sufficient to prove that my 
young friend was going through the whole routine of 
college life in the same way as hundreds who have preceded 
him, and thousands who will yet follow him, unless some 
vital change be effected. As for any eventual advantage 
to be derived from such an education it was simply negative, 
and, if the present system must be kept up, I would humbly 
suggest that Oxford be allowed to fulfil its mission as a 
training mother for clergymen — not the best mother I grant, 
for she is too apt to pamper her alumni with made dishes, 
instead of restricting herself to solid, healthy food — and let 
separate colleges be established for those young men who 
feel no call to the pulpit, and wish to apply themselves to 
the sister branches. But this digression is growing to an 
unpardonable length. 

Helen still kept up her correspondence with Charles, in 
spite of the rarity of his replies. She believed, fond girl, that 
he was working hard, and paving the way to fame, and it was 
better for her peace of mind that she should think so. Her 
letters formed a simple diairy of all her thoughts, words, and 
actions. Her pure heart revealed itself in every line, and, 
though Charles felt inclined to be jealous now and then at 
the allusions to the Marquis of Lancing, the strong love every 
letter breathed for his own unworthy self proved that her 
heart was unaffected. In later letters she complained very 
often of the annoyances to which she was subjected by the 
Count, and the persecution she endured from him whenever 



50 WILD OATS. 

her mother was out of the way ; that she had thought of 
complaining to her, and begging the Count to be dismissed 
the house, but she had nothing tangible to allege beyond 
admiration, which, as a woman, she ought to pardon ; and, 
besides, he was so old a friend that her mother would part 
from him with regret. Altogether she was happy. Many 
things occurred at home which seemed strange to her, but 
which she reconciled by supposing them the result of 
foreign fashions. Finally, she told him that they were 
going to Baden in July, and trusted he would join them 
there. Charles, having nothing better to do, magnanimously 
replied that he would think about it; and Helen, like a 
foolish girl, began counting the hours which slipped away 
and brought her nearer to happiness. 

But it must not be supposed that during this period of 
his history Charles was closely confined within college 
walls, and in sight of alma mater. During the vacations 
he had added considerably to his knowledge of life by 
excursions to London, and the number of new friends 
he had formed during his silk-gown development enabled 
him to pass the time very pleasantly. He visited several 
country houses, and was thrown into the society of well- 
born, pretty girls, thus rubbing off a great portion of that 
mauvaise honte which affects young Englishmen when in 
the presence of any female society save their sisters or their 
traviati, and, though bis heart was devoted to Helen, he 
thought it no harm to indulge in a little innocent flirtation, 
just to keep his hand in. He was gradually becoming a 
perfect gentleman, and the progress he made was visible. 

It is one of the great miseries of college life that young 
men are kept for so long a time, and at the most critical 
season, aloof from the society of women whom they could 
regard with reverence, and who, by their presence, would 
keep them in due bounds. It is true that the Dean gave 
evening parties, which were even duller than his dinners, 
and at which Mrs. Dean did the honours, while Miss Dean 
played the piano and displayed her somewhat scraggy 
shoulders to an alarming extent ; but this was far from 
removing the evil of which I complain. In the first place, 
Miss Emily Spinks could not condescend below a gentleman 
commoner; and, secondly, had she done so, I hardly think 
her conversation would have had the required effect. She 
could learnedly chop logic, and in her lighter moments con- 
versed about "Baphaels, Correggios, and stuff;" but then 
6he had a horrid Yorkshire accent, and her knowledge of the 



THE GENTLEMAN COMMONER. 51 

continent was restricted to " Ballon," where she had once 
passed a "long," and a trip up the Rhine as far as " Kellen," 
which was her Anglo-German mode of designating that city 
of unsavoury smells. All that she succeeded in effecting by 
her display of her person was to become a standing toast at 
college wines, under the figurative and somewhat unrefined 
form of the " shoulder of mutton." 

Charley had a fortunate escape, however, as regarded 
Miss St. Clair. She eloped with a strolling player, and 
carried off a portmanteau full of his clothes with her. She 
forgot to pay her bills before starting, and, as they amounted 
to a very considerable sum, he was obliged to pay a visit to 
a lawyer in Oxford, who kindly discounted him a bill at 
forty-five per cent. His next letter to Helen was full of 
hitter sarcasms on the fickleness of woman, which troubled 
the poor girl extremely, and made her behave very unkindly 
to the Marquis when he called that evening. 

But Charley Dashwood's memory will live for ever in the 
university, owing to a gallant feat which he performed just 
before the long vacation, and which resulted in the total 
defeat of the senior proctor. Acting on the principle that 
it is not well for man to be alone, Charley transferred his 
somewhat volatile affections to an amiable young gloveress 
at Woodstock, who was capable of appreciating his good 
qualities and the length of his purse. But to this grave sin 
Charles added another, which was far worse in the proctor's 
eyes, Woodstock being beyond his police diocese : he would 
always drive over in a tandem, the leader being put on and 
taken off just a mile from the town. 

Now, the senior proctor was a choleric man, and did not 
at all like the jokes which the dons cut upon him about his 
vain attempts to catch Charley in the act. My hero had pub- 
licly boasted that no proctor should stop him, and our clerical 
friend determined that he would be more than a match for 
him. For this purpose he hired a fly one fine evening, in 
which he ensconced himself and his myrmidons, and drove 
quietly out within sight of the Woodstock gate, prepared to 
stop my hero when he came up. But there were sharp eyes 
about, and the hostler, who was waiting at Summer Town to 
unyoke the leader of the team, smelling mischief, jumped on 
the back of the fly, rode comfortably behind it till it stopped, 
then bolted over a hedge, and arrived in time to stop Charley, 
who was driving quietly onwards, unsuspicious of mischief. 

While Charley was engaged in discussing the matter with 
the hostler, and speculating how he could escape without nu- 



52 WILD OATS. 

yoking the leader, and thus confessing his defeat, which he 
was very disinclined to do, the Birmingham coach came 
up, and the " Black Prince " inquired what was up. On 
hearing the dilemma he soon suggested an outlet. It merely 
consisted in Charley and himself changing coats and places. 
This was soon effected, and Charley, professionally squaring 
his shoulders, drove in the dusk past the lurking proctor, 
and did not stop till he reached the Mitre. The Black 
Prince followed in his rear, and had hardly reached the spot 
of danger ere two dusky forms seized the leader, and the 
proctor uttered his war-cry of " Siste per fidem." 

The Black Prince, however, was quite equal to the occa- 
sion. He regarded the assailants in the light of footpads, and 
with various uncomplimentary allusions to their eyes and 
their blood, double-thonged them to his heart's content. A 
parley took place, in which the Prince urged his right to 
drive along the Queen's highway without let or hinderance, 
like any other gem'man, and hinted that he should pull 
them all up for a breach of the peace ; so the unfortunate 
proctor was obliged to purchase his silence at a rather 
heavy rate, and drove back to college sorely discomfited, 
where he found that the story had preceded him. 

Such, and of such nature, was the mode in which Charley 
prepared himself for becoming an honour to his country; 
and though much may be pardoned him for his youth and 
inexperience, still I do not think that he was justified in 
wasting his time and energies in such unworthy pursuits. 
I only hope, therefore, that such changes will be introduced 
into our universities as to render such descriptions as mine 
simply impossible in future years. 

It is quite unnecessary that I should devote any further 
time to his follies, and if I mention an act of almost crimi- 
nality to which he was tempted, it is not because he was 
really guilty even in thought. Bad as he was, he was not 
so bad as to take advantage of fraud to secure an honour- 
able position in the schools. The incident I allude to was 
as follows. One morning he received by post a dirty and 
very illegible note, telling him that the writer had some- 
thing of importance to communicate, and requesting to 
meet him in the middle of Port Meadow in the afternoon. 
Having nothing better to do, Charley mounted his horse, 
and found himself at the appointed time joined by a respect- 
able-looking man, who thus addressed him : — 

"Mr. Charles Dashwood, I presume?" 



THE GENTLEMAN COMMONEB. 53 

" Yes, my name is Dash wood ; and you, I suppose, are 
the writer of this valuable documerjt " 

" You may sneer, Mr. Dashwood, but I can tell you I have 
had to deal with better men than you before now, who have 
received me with great respect." 

" That may be, but it is not to the purpose. What do 
you want of me? Quick, I am in a hurry." 

" It must first be understood that we are dealing as gentle- 
men, and that you will not repeat the subject of our conver- 
sation." 

With a queer glance at his interlocutor Charles gave the 
required promise. The other then proceeded. 

" I believe, Mr. Dashwood, it is important to your pros- 
pects that you should take a high class. Now, what would 
you give to the person who put you in the way of getting a 
first with certainty?" 

" Give ! Why five hundred pounds." 

" You are liberal, but I do not ask so much: two hundred 
will satisfy the party whose agent I am." 

" By Jove ! you re a mysterious gentleman; but I really 
don't see my way clearly." 

"Don't you, Mr. Dashwood? Then this, perhaps, will 
throw some light on it," handing him up a dirty piece of 
crumpled print. " That," he added solemnly, " is a spoiled 
proof of the Greek composition paper on to-day. Now do 
you understand?" 

Charles was petrified at this artful scheme, but he merely 
added, " Go on." 

" If you like to agree to my terms, Mr. Dashwood, I will 
see that you are supplied, when you go up for honours, with 
each paper as it leaves the press. The examiners are clever 
enough, and count the number of copies, but we have ways 
to defeat them. Oh ! you need not look surprised ; many 
very worthy gentlemen have availed themselves of my 
services before now. I could run over a list which would 
astonish you. But, in a word, what message am I to deliver 
to my employer?" 

" That, if I had him here, I would give him as sound a 
thrashing as he ever had in his life, for daring to think I am 
as big a scoundrel as himself." 

" Well, well, no offence was meant ; you need not be so 
tetchy. I have your promise of secrecy, and so good after- 
noon." 

And the stranger walked rapidly off in the direction of 



54 WILD OATS. 

Wheatley, leaving Charles lost in blank amazement at the 
audacity of the scheme. The more he thought over the 
subject the more he applauded his resolution, and, regard- 
ing himself as a model of manly virtue and resolution, he 
cantered off towards Woodstock, nor drew rein till he reached 
the King's Arms. 



CHAPTER VII. 

BADEN-BADEN. 



The promenade was crowded. Beneath every orange tree 
a party of gaily-dressed people were drinking coffee and 
nipping ices. Along the walk leading from the Hotel 
d'Angleterre to the Conversation's House the vacant space 
before the Swiss-looking shops was occupied with guests. 
All were looking intently in one direction, for the band in 
the kiosk was obtained from the Austrian regiment at 
Bastadt, and was playing the gallop from Gustavus with its 
most absurd " kikeri-kikerikee " repeated at intervals, which 
caused the most hearty and unanimous applause. 

During the pause between the pieces of music the crowd 
that paraded with difficulty up and down the promenade — 
so encumbered was it with chairs, and the dangling sabres 
of the Austrian officers — gazed fixedly at the front of the 
gambling house, where two ladies, mother and daughter, 
evidently, from their resemblance, were seated, and sur- 
rounded by a body guard of gentlemen to defend them from 
any rush. The men were unanimous in their admiration, 
the women in their envy, of the younger lady, and I think 
this affords a very fair criterion that she must have been 
beautiful exceedingly. In fact, it was my dear Helen, 
though greatly changed from the young girl whose gaucherie 
had caused vague fears in the maternal breast. She had 
filled out, and all the angularities which might have dis- 
figured her were rounded off; while her face had lost a 
portion of its ruddiness, but had gained a look of nobility 
and hauteur, which formed a striking contrast to the merry 
child who had recently been bounding among the woods of 
Birchmere as light-hearted as the butterflies which sported 
around her head. 

At present there was an air of languid annoyance per- 



BADEN-BADEN. 55 

vading her face ; nor was it surprising when she was com. 
peiled to listen to five or six young fops, who were buzzing 
round her and talking inanities, which prevented her from 
enjoying the music. Nor was she particularly pleased at 
ber mother having thus rendered her the cynosure of ad- 
miring eyes by occupying so conspicuous a place ; but she 
had learned by this time how hopeless it was to try and 
divert her mother from her purpose, and she strove to 
guard her face from the vulgar gaze with her deeply-laced 
parasol. 

But Madame Lehlanc had a very good motive for selecting 
this spot. The Marquis of Lancing had arrived the previous 
evening, and it was an object with her to let him see how 
much Helen was admired. She knew that nothing so 
stimulates a man to make a fool of himself as the fear of 
losing any object on which he has set his affections, and which 
he has already regarded in the light of his own property. 
But the lady was puzzled about the Marquis. She could 
not understand him at all sometimes, and was even inclined 
to think he was not such a fool as he looked; but then a 
glance at that face re-assured her. Stupidity was photo- 
graphed on his countenance by the hand of that most exact 
worker, Nature ; and she felt relieved by the inspection, and 
mentally vowed that Helen should win him yet. But he was 
certainly distressingly shy, and, though the mother had given 
him numerous opportunities at Paris to declare his passion, 
he had held aloof, and matters were as far from fruition on the 
last day as on the first. He had quitted Paris to return to 
his senatorial duties with a promise to meet them at Baden ; 
and here he was, certainly as much in love as ever, and yet 
not a trace of a foregone resolution could be read on his 
inane face. Madame Leblanc determined to precipitate 
me.tters, for her daughter had already been hanging on her 
nands too long. 

But, to tell the truth, the Marquis had not the slightest 
intention of marrying Helen, and although he was exces- 
sively fond of her, almost next to himself I may say, such 
an absurd idea as that the Most Noble the Marquis of 
Lancing was going to marry the daughter of a gambling- 
house keeper had never crossed his mind. He was cer- 
tainly in great perturbation of spirit; he could not bear to 
be away from her side, and felt miserable if she smiled on 
anybody else ; and yet there was something about Helen 
which warned him not to make any dishonouring proposal 
to her. What the end of it was to be he did not know, and 



56 WILD OATS. 

although at times the idea crossed his mind that Madame 
Leblanc was anxious to make money of her daughter, still 
the style in which she lived precluded the notion. In 
this dilemma the Marquis bethought him of an invaluable 
friend, the Honourable Captain Fitzspavin, whom he sum- 
moned to his councils, and under his guidance prepared 
to open the summer campaign. The Captain was to remain 
passive, and watch for a loophole at which the Marquis 
would jump at once. This being satisfactorily arranged, 
the Marquis resumed his old place by Helen's side, and 
his old habits of maundering. 

Madame Leblanc was obliged to leave the young couple 
more frequently together than had hitherto been the case, as 
her itching for play rendered her a very constant visitant to 
Monsieur Benazet's board of green cloth, where, Penelope- 
like, — 

"The toil of the day 
She strove to undo every night ;" 

in other words, she lost by clever martingales and infallible 
coups all the money she had amassed during the winter. 
This was a settled rule with her, and Fitzspavin saw it with 
delight. "It's all right, my boy," he remarked confiden- 
tially to the Marquis; "give the old woman rope enough 
and she '11 hang herself — she '11 have to come to our terms 
yet" But Madame had other resources at her command, 
of which the couple were unaware ; and hence I do not 
think their neat little scheme on Helen's virtue will prove 
successful. However, time will show that, as well as many 
other secrets. 

The day after the visit to the promenade was devoted to 
a drive to Eberstein Scbloss ; and Helen, who was as yet 
unacquainted with continental scenery, was lost in admira- 
tion at the glorious panorama which lay expanded at her 
feet when she stood on the roof of the tower. Perhaps, the f 
whole length and breadth of Germany does not contain a 
more lovely spot than the valley of the Mourg, extending 
for miles between towering bills, the stream noisily rustling 
through the centre ; while the quaint little town of Gerns- 
bach, with its Swiss houses and rude bridge, gives that 
vitality to the landscape without which the most magnifi- 
cent scenery is unsatisfactory. When she had gazed her fill 
the' party proceeded to the carriage, where a hamper of good 
things had been unpacked the while ; and the generous 
Eberstein blut, which the Grand Duke, in a liberal spirit, 



BADEN-BADEN. 57 

sells to the visitor, was heartily approved of by all tbe 
company. 

Succeeding days were devoted to tbe surrounding scenery 
not the least interesting spot being Allerheiligen, with its 
mad stream bounding frantically down between frowning 
walls of rocks to hurry and embrace the Rhine. Nor was the 
Mummelsee left unvisited ; and that mystic spot seemed a 
well-fitted abode for the fairies who are supposed to hold 
their revels in its subaqueous grottos. But Helen was the 
only one of the company who really took any pleasure in 
the scenery ; her companions were biases, the majority of 
them from over-excitement, the Marquis because it was 
fashionable ; and her hearty bursts of admiration only drew 
from him a pitying glance and a profound remark to Fitz- 
spavin of, " A wevy queer girl that, I must say." 

But Helen cared little what they thought. She was im- 
bued with a strong artistic feeling, which the scenery aided 
to develope, and her sketch-book was continually in requi- 
sition, much to the annoyance of the gentlemen, for they 
had to wait her leisure, and would have much preferred re- 
turning to Baden. It was, however, Madame Leblanc's 
policy to humour her daughter as far as was practicable, 
and she let her have her way in such trifling matters as 
these, for they afforded her opportunities to remark that 
her daughter was a true child of nature, and that she had 
been just the same at her age ; to which Captain Fitz- 
spavin would reply with a low bow and a most intense 
wink to the Marquis, whose face was suddenly hidden in 
his scented handkerchief. 

And when Helen was wearied of driving about, what in- 
tense amusement was afforded her by the promenade, with 
its motley groups and ever-changing types ! That narrow 
belt of gravel extending from the restaurant to the library 
was a stage trodden with equal privileges by every class 
of society — an epitome of human life, with its chances and 
changes. King and cobbler, prince and packman, lords 
and lackeys, all thronged to lay their tribute before the 
high priest of Mercury, and from none was the offering re- 
jected : the bank-notes of the millionaire and the florin of 
the peasant out for a holiday were impartially swallowed by 
that all-craving man. The only thing asked from you in 
return was that you should make no disturbance; and you 
could not annoy the usually impassible Monsieur Benazet 
more than by committing suicide. His heart and purse 
were open to all who bad lost their viaticum at his table ; 



58 WILD OATS. 

and I have known several talented Irish gentlemen pay 
their hotel bill, and have something left, by a judicious 
appeal to the Lord of Control, and by displaying a propen- 
sity to make a disturbance. But this must be within 
certain limits : go one step too far, and you fell into the 
clutches of a ruthless gendarmerie, who never quitted you 
till you had crossed the frontier. When an irate baronet — 
a bosom friend of the Grand Duke Constantine — allowed 
his feelings to carry him so far as to break a rake over a 
croupier's head, that stoic never stirred a feature, but calmly 
signed to the police to remove the gentleman and the pieces, 
and continued his monotonous et couleur perd, as if being 
thrashed by a secretary of an embassy was a portion of the 
duties of his office. 

Ah me ! Baden is a pleasant place — there cannot be two 
opinions about that; and they know bow to ice champagne 
there to perfection. Then that Lichtenthaler Allee, with 
its side walks leading nowhere in particular, is apt to play 
the deuce with a man's heart if he lounge along it with a 
fair creature in white muslin. Indeed, I would earnestly 
recommend all inflammable bachelors to stick to the roulette 
table ; they will find that the cheaper in the end. 

The summer of 1846 will be long remembered, were it 
only for the wine which that beneficent year produced ; and 
the glorious weather had attracted to Baden countless swarms 
of visitors. The Russians assumed the first rank, as they 
always do, by virtue of their roubles and their extravagance ; 
then came the Americans, trying to outvie their Anglo-Saxon 
brethren in splendour and grammar — in both I need not 
say sustaining tremendous defeats, which afforded some 
consolation for Lexington. Poles, too, flitted about myste- 
riously, coming no one knew where from, and disappearing 
again with equal caution, deeply regretted by their laun- 
dress or a too confiding tailor. The French, also, had made 
a new invasion of Germany; their red ribbons glistened in 
every corner. It is a curious fact that the French are only 
divided into two great classes ; they are all chevaliers, some 
of the legion of honour ; others of the equally meritorious 
order of industry — some even are enabled to combine both, 
and the fusion produces an admirable result. 

Of course, when such a mob of gaily-dressed individuals 
was collected, the English could not be absent. They 
scented notoriety afar off, and pounced upon it like raven- 
ing vultures; and that interesting spectacle of Les Anglaises 
pour rire was repeated for the thirtieth time since the occn- 



BADEN-BADEN. 59 

pation of Paris by the Allies, with fresh scenery and deco- 
rations. Sturdy Britons, cased in leather gaiters and irre- 
sponsible coats, scaled the surrounding mountains; they 
took the Alt-Sehloss by storm, and appeared to perform 
acrobatic feats on the turrets and every dangerous point. 
John Smith proudly scrawled his name on tottering frag- 
ments of stonework, at which a monkey would have looked 
twice before he ventured to climb, and paraded the prome- 
nade in the evening with conscious pride, as if he too had 
done something to ennoble his patronymic. 

Helen never wearied of gazing on her countrymen and 
women. To her this was quite a novel sight ; and it afforded 
her intense amusement to watch Mrs. Britannia, as she 
appeared in the most outrageous of costumes, and fancied 
that she could set up her home wherever she stopped for 
the night. But when we remember that the greatest lady 
of the land entered into a violent personal dispute at Ostende 
with the chambermaids touching the airing of some sheets, 
surely Mrs. Smith has a prescriptive right to do the same, 
though, perhaps, in less choice language. 

Possibly, however, Helen felt the greatest interest in 
Captain Bobadil. I have no need to introduce him to you, 
reader, for if you have ever crossed the channel, you have 
made hi acquaintance. No Englishman ever yet got into 
any difficulty with the police but Captain Bobadil turned 
up to be his guide, philosopher, and friend. He is ubiqui- 
tous. Last year I met him on the Yeni Kyprii at Constan- 
tinople, engaged in the transport service, but by some 
extraordinary process he reached Baden before me. He is 
a standing instance of the tyranny of the English govern- 
ment. He was once a lieutenant in the coast guard, and got 
into trouble by rumpling the dresses of an ambassador's 
lady which passed under his supervision. I believe he was 
superseded for awhile, and ever since he rails at govern- 
ment ; but he affects a mystery as to the cause of his being 
shelved. When in a jovial humour he will make dark allu- 
sions to the First Lord having been jealous of his humbla 
Abilities ; but, as a general rule, he observes strict silence. 
Au reste, he is a walking encyclopedia of scandal, and about 
the best cicerone a new traveller can pick up. He soon 
scraped an acquaintance with Helen, when he found that 
the gentlemen of her party tried to keep aloof from him, 
and, whenever she walked down to the promenade alone to 
study human nature in one of its quaintest aspects, he 
was sure to be by her side, and felt uncommonly proud 



CO WILD OATS. 

of being noticed by the acknowledged beauty of the 
season. 

" Nonsense, my dear young lady," he remarked one after- 
noon, as she expressed her opinion that some distinguished 
Englishmen had passed ; " nonsense, I know them all. That 
tall man with the moustache is a barber from town : he 
calls himself a count here. A pretty fellow ! Why, he 's 
trimmed my hyacintbine locks many a time ; but he mustn't 
hear me, though, or he '11 be dunning me for that little bill 
I owe him. That's the worst of railways — they bring you. 
into the most unpleasant collisions. That gentleman walk- 
ing with him is Captain Vavasour, as he calls himself. If 
ever he was a captain, it must have been in the Guards 
, Black. You understand, eh ? Don't ever buy a horse of him. 
Now that other gentleman coming along is really a respect- 
■ able man. A parson? Nonsense ! that's Inspector Trail, of 
J the London detectives. M. Benazet hires him for the season 
to look after London swell mobsmen. It's a pity he can't 
make a clear sweep of some of our honourable scamps. 
There s one," pointing to our friend Fitzspavin. " He 's 
been in every gaol on the continent, and has run up a bill 
at every hotel. Don't trust him with any money or auy 
secrets — he'll dispose of both of them." 

I do not think I need quote any more of my amusing 
old friend's revelations: the specimen I have given will 
enable my readers to recognise him at once. Nor were his 
remarks about the ladies a whit more charitable, and if 
Helen had put implicit faith in all his statements she would 
have been obliged to believe that all the scamps and demi- 
reps of Europe were here congregated. I am afraid, how- 
ever, that there was considerable truth in his remarks, and, 
had Helen not been particularly cautious, she might have 
compromised her reputation very seriously before she was 
aware she had incurred the slightest danger. 

But there was another reason which led her to court 
Bobadil's company. The Count had begun to become 
terribly assiduous, and waylaid her whenever she was left 
alone. He had tried to terrify her by dark hints about her 
mother's projects with regard to her, and implored her to 
consider him in the light of a true friend, who would run 
any risk to save her. He knew that her heart was not her 
own, but still he was willing to wait and hope, and be the 
most devoted of her servants. He would watch her as her 
guardian angel, and frustrate her mother's iniquitous 
schemes. She should not be the victim of sinister in- 



BADEN-BADEN. 61 

trigues so long as he had a hand to wield a sword in her 
defence. It was in vain that Helen tried to gain any 
definite information from him. He would not tell her 
what danger she ran, but said that he would warn her at 
the decisive moment; and if — and here he assumed an 
ineffable smile, which was more disgusting than a menace — 
she found herself compelled to quit her mother's roof, might 
he be allowed to bear her company, and take her to her 
friends? 

All this set Helen thinking. She saw nothing against which 
she ought to guard : everything seemed to be going on in the 
usual satisfactory manner, so she soon began to regard the 
Count as a dreamer, who conjured up danger which had no 
existence save in his own diseased brain. Still she could 
not overcome the repugnance she had felt for the Count 
from the first moment she had seen him. She felt that he 
was scheming against her peace of mind, and though she 
scorned the idea that he was daring to aspire to her band 
there was an uncomfortable feeling in his presence which 
she could not control. Julie, too, was becoming more mys- 
terious than ever. She would give way to violent fits of 
sulking which lasted for days, and which she would strive 
to make up for by renewed attentions. Helen was almost 
certain that she had seen her talking earnestly with the 
Count in the garden more than once, when the rest of the 
household had retired to bed; but she was unwilling to 
mention the circumstance to her mother, who seemed to be 
so fond of the Count, and made him her confidant in every 
emergency. 

Before long, however, Helen was relieved from the Count's 
presence. He went off on pressing business to Paris, and Helen 
was rendered doubly secure by a most welcome letter from 
Charley, announcing his immediate arrival at Baden. The 
reason of the Count's sudden departure will be discovered 
from the following conference between the Marquis and his 
bosom friend. 

"The time is drawing near," Fitzspavin remarked one 
evening as the two sate smoking and playing a quiet game 
of piquet at their hotel; "the old lady is getting hard up. 
That precious Count is off to Paris to spout the diamonds. 
I have been expecting it some time, and I got it out of 
Crofton to-night over an extra bottle of champagne; so 
now make your game, my boy, while the ball 's a-rolling." 

" Well, but how ? I don't see my way exactly," said the 



62 



WILD OATS. 



Marquis listlessly. "Lets have another bottle and talk it 
over." 

" Why, you've got it all your own way now. The money 
Madame raises on the diamonds will soon follow the rest, and 
she must have tin to get back to Paris and open the shop. 
She "11 be obliged to apply to you, and you '11 be willing to 
advance it — for a conside-ra-tion of course." 

"That being the fair Helen, I suppose you mean." 

" Of course. I don't see what there 's to prevent you from 
going in and winning. The old lady has no very high 
feelings on the score of honour, aud, after all, if Helen fol- 
lows in her footsteps the mother has given you opportunities 
enough, the Lord knows. I shouldn't feel at all scrupulous; 
money will salve the matter over, and you 've plenty of that 
to spare." 

" But," remarked the Marquis, " I don't think the girl is 
so very fond of me as all that. Besides, there 's something 
about her rather queer. She 's not like the usual run of 
girls, and I shouldn't have taken her for her mother's 
daughter if I hadn't the old lady's word for it." 

" Oh, nonsense ! you re not so green as to expect her to 
throw herself at your head. All these things are a matter 
of speculation: the longer the resistance the higher the 
price ; so, if you'll take my advice, you '11 buckle to at 
once while Madame wants money." 

" I will" said the Marquis with unwonted energy, and 
so the worthy couple parted. 

Meanwhile Helen, utterly unconscious of the plot of 
which she was to be the victim, brightened up wonderfully 
at the prospect of her Charley's speedy arrival, and received 
the Marquis with such sunny smiles that she only con- 
firmed that infatuated young man in his iniquitous resolve. 
He laid the flattering unction to his soul that he had at 
length produced the desired impression ; the fruit was ripe 
for plucking, and he had only to stretch out his hand and 
cull the delicious morsel. However, he deferred the matter 
for a day or two, until a projected party on the rocks took 
place, and would not listen to Fitzspavin's advice that he 
should open negotiations with Madame Leblanc. The 
Marquis believed that Helen could no longer resist his 
manifold accomplishments, and wisely determined to enjoy 
his victory at the cheapest possible rate. By this method 
he would save an outlay of ready money, which was always 
a peculiarly unpleasant process for him. 



IHE MARQUIS OF LANCING. 6"3 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

THE MARQUIS OF LANCING. 



On leaving town, Charley travelled en grand seigneur. He 
went from Ostende to Cologne by the railway, and thence by 
steamer up the glorious Rhine. I fancy he felt some disap- 
pointment at the sight of that river: we all do more or less 
on first seeing it, for the ideal we have formed from album 
engravings of a pellucid stream is dissipated by that pea- 
soup mixture which passes current for water. Besides, the 
principal beauties of the Rhine cannot be detected from the 
deck of a steamer. They are only to be found by stopping 
for a season at the chief stations, and extending your re- 
searches on either side of the river. Quickness of locomotion 
has greatly lessened the effect of the Rhine scenery, and 
the constant succession of ruined fortalices crowning every 
height and crag between Coblenz and Bin gen eventually 
palls the eye, while you give way to a feverish loDging for 
nature under a more tranquil aspect. 

Our forefathers managed these things better. They tra- 
velled in a roomy caleohe, and did not predetermine some 
given point which must be reached within a certain time. 
They rested on the road, and thoroughly exhausted the 
scenery before they went onwards ; and this quiet mode of 
locomotion had a beneficial effect on their digestion, and 
consequently on their temper. Now-a-days we have changed 
all this. Travelling Englishmen are so many Isaak Laque- 
dems, who are impelled by a fierce desire to move onwards, 
which would gratify Policeman X ; and they fancy that 
the only object of travelling is to cover the greatest quantity 
of ground in the shortest space of time. If, however, tra- 
velling is to be regarded as a means to develope that artistic 
feeling which every educated man acquires in a greater or 
less degree from association and the amenities of polite 
society, that end cannot be attained by rushing helter- 
skelter from Paris to Stamboul, and "doing" the scenery 
from the window of a railway carriage, or beneath the awn- 
ing of a steamer, which is always in the way when you 
reach the most interesting spot. 

However, Charley in this merely followed the manners 



64 WILD OATS. 

and customs of his countrymen, and regarded the scenery 
as his own property, duly placed there by nature for the 
gratification of those persons with money in their pocket. 
I fancy, too, that he had a much greater feeling of internal 
satisfaction at visiting those huge caravansara'is, which have 
been built for the refuge of travellers in all the towns where 
Englishmen make it a point to reside for awhile. Nor did 
he, I am happy to say, consider it his duty to support his 
character as a Briton by blustering and calling all the land- 
lords a parcel of rogues, and worthy descendants of those 
Faust-Kitter who formerly plundered all that came within 
their reach. He carefully calculated the expenses inci- 
dental on a stay in an hotel as large as the Clarendon ; and a 
comparison between the two left a large balance in favour 
of the Germans, without speaking of the extreme civility 
which was thrown in gratis. 

I know perfectly well that Mr. Smith or friend Jones, on 
reading this apology for German landlords, will wax irate, 
and doubtlessly write on the margin, " The writer 's an ass," 
or some other complimentary effusion of his spleen. He 
perfectly well remembers that when he went up the Rhine 
last he had a bitter battle at every hotel with the landlord 
about that iniquitous charge of twenty-four kreuzer for bougies, 
and he ought to know the price of wax candles if any one 
did — he hadn't been keeping an Italian warehouse thirty 
years for nothing. True, Smith ! I will allow your objec- 
tion. I will agree with you that eightpence is too much to 
pay each night for light to go to bed with — but I fancy this 
imposition has been established by Britons themselves; at 
least, I know that in those parts of Germany where Eng- 
lishmen are not yet expected to return with the swallows, 
this imposition is unknown. But, after all, it is not a very 
exorbitant sum ; and oh, Smith ! when you grow angry at 
being cheated, and assert your dignity in that loud voice, 
which is the terror of Kellners and the amusement of the 
cosmopolitan, you have assuredly forgotten that admirable 
passage in the " Sentimental Journey " about the inn at 
Radicofaui and the two hard eggs. Read it, O Smith, with 
a reverent spirit before you start on your next tour, and I 
feel sure you will not begrudge even eightpence for candles. 

Mr. Dashwood being, as I have already hinted, a youth of 
noble temperament and careless habits, fell into the oppo- 
site extreme ; he was somewhat puzzled by the half French, 
half German characters of his bill, and ended by paying it 
without appeal. In this he was wrong; mistakes will 



THE I.ARQUIS OF LANCINO. 65 

happen, and tliey ought to he recti Bed at once, which any 
German landlord will he only too happy to do for his own 
character. It is true that these mistakes are rarely on the 
wrong side ; hut, for all that, I could not be inclined to accuse 
the landlords without appeal of a desire to cheat ; and when 
I remember what a German table d'hote is, with long-haired 
Kellner trying to satisfy everybody at once, and appearing 
at every moment with a battery of bottles under each arm, 
I am only too grateful that so few mistakes occur, and that 
my humble bottle of Niersteiner is not converted into cham° 
pagne by the time I have to pay for it. 

Charley Dashwood could not have arrived at Baden at a 
more unpropitious moment for Madame Leblanc, for her 
schemes with reference to the Marquis seemed to her ripe, 
and she was sadly afraid the hot-headed young man would 
spoil all by his precipitation. She was determined, coute 
qui coute, that Charles should not be Helen's husband, and 
was quite careless as to what schemes she employed to pie- 
vent that consummation. Her daughter's happiness, her 
own character, were to her trifles light as air when she 
wished to serve her ambition; and she had determined on a 
final measure of the most decisive character if, as she had 
reason to fear, Charley was not prepared to coalesce with 
her in furthering the interests of her daughter. 

But Madams was far too good a schemer to terrify Charles 
by any overt act of opposition ; and the affectionate manner 
in which she greeted him led him to wrap himself in fancied 
dreams of bliss. His Helen, of course, was delighted to see 
him. Poor girl ! she had loDged for the moment since the 
hour they had parted at Birchmere. And then he was so 
improved, be had grown so manly, and his moustache be- 
came him so well — only the eyes of love could detect the in- 
cipient down which cast so slight a shade over Charley's 
upper lip. An interminable talk took place between them ; 
she hoped and feared she knew not what ; but the present 
was all in all with her, and she felt oertain that her mother 
would oppose no barrier to her felicity. But she was not 
yet acquainted with all the resources of that lady's fertile 
brain. 

The hours flew by with lightning speed. Charles had 
been introduced in due form to the Marquis, and a mutual 
antipathy had sprung up between them at the first glance. 
The Marquis saw in him an obstacle to his schemes, while 
Charles chafed at his constant dangling by Helen's side. 
They were, however, excessively polite to each other — too 



66 wild oats. 

much so to insure any lengthened peace ; and when they 
separated for the night the Marquis sought a conference 
with his confederate. 

" Fitz, I don't like that boy being here," he said moodily, 
after gulping down a very strong g?ass of brandy and water ; 
" he seems to talk to Helen with a familiarity which is- 
highly unbecoming, and, confuse it, she had hardly a, 
word for me during the whole night." 

" Oh ! I can see through it all," was the reply. 
" Madame finds the time growing too long ; she can't wait 
any longer for money : they refused to lend her any more at 
the bank to-night, I know, and she must play. That young 
cub has been brought here to force you into opening your 
mind. I can read milady's moves long before they are 
played. I have been expecting this for some time." 

" Well, but, Fitz, I don't see my way clearly. This young 
fellow 's her cousin, and suppose she cuts up rough at my 
proposals, she'll go and tell him all about it, and, hang it, 
I can't fight a cad — a fellow that 's related to a woman like 
old mother Leblanc ! " 

"Oh, that's all stuff! I know the Dashwoods. That 
young fellow comes of a good family ; he 's no more related 
to her than you are. Julie told me that there was some 
love affair between them when they were children. She was 
brought up with him ; but I don't believe they 're in any 
way related. Besides, you need not fear anything from 
him. Leave him to me ; I '11 manage him for you." 

" Now, will you ? Well, you are a good fellow, Fitz ; and, 
now I come to think of it, I can spare you that hundred you 
wanted. I find, on looking over my tin, that I have more 
than 1 shall require while I am here. Tomorrow, then, 
I '11 set to work and see how Miss Helen's pulse beats." 

And with this valorous resolve, and with a heart much 
lightened by his friend's generous offer to take any con- 
tingent quarrel on his hands, the Marquis went off to bed, 
and slept as soundly as if he had performed some highly 
meritorious action. In the meanwhile a very different 
scene had been taking place at the Villa Braunfels, where 
the Leblanc family was residing. 

" Helen, dear," said her mother, as they were retiring for 
the night, ' ; will you come into my bedroom in half an 
hour's time? I have important matters to talk over with 
you." 

Helen obeyed of course, wondering much what this secret 
interview betokened, and on entering the room found her 



THE MARQUIS OF LANCING. 07 

mother nestled into an arm-chair, and smoking a most 
fragrant cigarette. 

"Helen," the fond mother began, "I have asked you to 
come here to-night because matters are approaching a climax. 
You must be aware that you have been deprived of nothing 
which could insure your comfort and happiness. You must 
allow that I have been an indulgent mother to you, and 
have never interfered with you in any way. I felt such 
confidence in your good heart, my child, thai I was certain, 
when the time arrived, I might count on your devotion and 
passive obedience. I trust I have not been mistaken." 

Helen bowed a silent acquiescence, though much alarmed 
at the turn matters were taking; and her mother, after two 
or three deliberate puffs, went on : — 

" So long as you and Charles Dashwood were separated, I 
allowed you to carry on a correspondence with him. I was 
wrong, I am afraid; but I had good reasons for my conduct, 
which I need not here enter into. I looked upon it as a 
childish engagement between you, and, knowing that it 
could never be carried into effect, I trusted to time to 
change your feelings. I am happy to believe that I was 
right. The devoted attention the Marquis of Lancing has 
paid you has, I am glad to see, had its due effect on your 
heart, and I have no doubt that you are awaitiug anxiously 
and blushingly the happy moment when he shall avow his 
passion. Hence, my dear girl, I am obliged to put you on 
your guard against any mistaken intimacy with Charley. 
You must not do anything to frighten the Marquis, and, 
though I must speak in the highest praise of the clever 
manner in which you have caught so splendid a husband, 
still my own experience tells me that, in the present circum- 
stances, I can be of great assistance to you." 

Helen sank into a chair utterly speechless. She was 
overwhelmed with terror and grief, and the idea that people 
had thought she was trying to catch the Marquis stung her 
to the heart. Her mother, however, proceeded : — 

"Under the circumstances, then, my child, I have made 
up my mind to leave Baden at once. Charles must be got 
rid of, and so soon as the Marquis has declared himself, 
which I trust to your skill to make him do to-morrow at our 
picnic on the rocks, we will return to Paris, and make the 
requisite prepaiations for your marriage. I am much 
pleased with you, my darling, so kiss me, and we will 
regard the matter as settled." 

But by this time Helen had regained courage, and faced 



68 WILD OATS. 

her mother like a tigress robbed of her young. The thought 
that she must give up her Charley, her dear boy, for such 
a man as the Marquis, whom she now detested thoroughly 
when she found that her way of meeting him had been so 
shamefully misinterpreted, roused her to the utmost, and she 
burst forth in a wild torrent of protestations and appeals for 
mercy. She was betrothed to Charley in the sight of heaven ; 
she had promised to be his wife, or never marry another; 
and keep her word she would, no matter what sacrifices it 
might entail. 

" Oh, mother !" she at length fell on her knees before her, 
and moaned, " why did yon take me from my happy home? 
Why was I not permitted to seek my own livelihood, strong 
in the love of my Charley, and trustful in the future ? It is 
true that you have surrounded me with luxuries to which I 
was a stranger a year ago ; but why ask me to pay such 
a fearful price for them by sacrificing my peace of mind — 
my love? Oh, mother, mother, pity me ! Recall your de- 
cision. Say you were trying me and my love. Let me 
hope, or would you see me die here at your feet?" 

Strange as it may appear, Madame Leblanc never felt 
such strong love for her daughter as she did at this moment, 
when a word from her was to blast her life happiness ; but 
not a trace of this could be seen on her impassible features 
She merely raised her from the ground and said, — 

" It cannot be ; even if I did not entertain such strong 
objections, nature has raised an insurmountable barrier 
between you and Charley. Ask me no more. Believe me 
when I say that it is impossible." 

"Then hear me, mother. Before heaven I have vowed 
to be the wife of no man but Charley, and I will keep my 
word. You will try to make me a victim to your selfish 
schemes, and I will obey you so far as to give up my hopes 
of happiness, but I cannot yield further." 

" Wretched girl ! then you will force your mother to 
avow her shame. Do you wish me to sink into the earth 
before you ? Charles can never be more to you than a 
brother, for he is so in the sight of heaven." 

This cleverly-acted plot was more effective than Madame 
Leblanc had anticipated, for the fatal words had scarcely 
escaped her lips when Helen fell down motionless at her 
feet, as if shot through the heart. For a long time Madame's 
efforts, united with Julie's, were employed in vain to 
restore her to consciousness; but at last they succeeded. 
Helen gazed wildly rouad her, as if striving to realise the 



THE MARQUIS OF LANCING. 69 

awful truth. Suddenly the horror of her position flashed 
across her mind ; her head drooped like a lily nipped in the 
stem. She faintly muttered, " Mother, I will obey you," 
and again fell back in a lengthened fit of unconsciousness. 

Madame Leblanc was triumphant, and though a pang 
now and then crossed her mind at having thus ulcerated 
her daughter's heart, still she thought that, as with herself, 
position and wealth would soon cauterise the wound. But, 
though so clever in other respects, the thought never 
occurred to her that the Marquis might be playing a double 
game as well. She trusted too implicitly in the power of 
woman's beauty, forgetting that there are some persons in 
the world whose hearts have been converted by selfishness 
into that petrifaction which forms the motive of Hauff's 
weird, ghastly story, Das Steineme Herz. 

When the guests assembled for the projected pienic my dar- 
ling Helen was the ghost of her former self; and, though she 
tried to assume a forced gaiety, a lover's observant eyes soon 
noticed a great change. When she looked at Charley, which 
was very rarely, she seemed to suffer from an inward shudder. 
She was more fitted for her bed than for pleasure, but the 
strong feeling which impelled her to drive Charley from 
her side gave her unnatural strength. With this view she 
coquetted with the Marquis, and paid the most flattering 
attention to his remarks, which the more confirmed the mis- 
guided young man in his designs, and he determined that 
this day should witness the confirmation of his scheme on 
Helen's heart. 

After a dinner on the grass, which passed off dully enough, 
although the Marquis vigorously attacked the bottle, and 
his weak brain soon begau to show the effect, the party 
dispersed in different directions to ramble about the rocks. 
Helen and the Marquis were together, and Charley, when 
he attempted to follow them, was cleverly stopped by Madame 
Leblanc, who forced him into a long conversation about 
Biichmero and the late Captain. The lady was the essence 
of amiability, and talked much at intervals about the 
brilliant prospects which were opening for her Helen, 
which only rendered the young man more impatient and 
anxious to follow her and the Marquis. 

At length an opportunity for escape presented itself: 
Madame Leblanc was called away by some of the guests, 
and Charley rushed off, full of anxious fears and doubts, in 
s-eareh of Helen. Her conduct to him during the whole 
day had been very strange, and could only be explained by 



IV WILD OATS. 

the notion that she had decided on forgetting him, and 
accepting the Marquis's hand ; but this should not happen, 
he swore bitterly, until he had had an explanation with 
her, which he was determined to force at all hazards. Un- 
fortunately for him, it is not so easy to find a person wan- 
dering through the mazes of the "rocks" which frown so 
grandly above Baden, and, after a long ramble in every 
direction, Charles grew tired and disgusted. The infallible 
remedy in such cases being a reflective smoke, he lay down 
on a ledge of rock, from which the Vanity Fair at his feet 
could be surveyed, and the spiral wreaths that ascended to 
the skies so lazily soon proved that he was offering a sacri- 
fice to Nemesis, which bad the desired effect of soothing his 
temper. 

He lay there, half sleepily, half listlessly, and began to 
form a better opinion of Helen; for his vanity would not 
allow him to think that she would choose such an ill-looking 
fellow as the Marquis in his place, forgetting that money 
and title would turn a uran-utan into an Adonis — when 
voices suddenly struck his ear. He listened ; it was his 
Helen speaking. But why such passionate utterance? Who 
could be the person daring to insult her? He rose from 
his seat, and heard her say, — 

" Unhand me, my lord ! Your very pi*esence is an insult 
to me after the odious proposition you have dared to make. 
Back, I say, or I will scream for assistance at any hazard." 

" My dear girl, don't be so foolish. Surely you did not 
think I meant to marry you? I should fancy that the pro- 
position I made you would be only too acceptable to the 
daughter of Madame Leblanc." 

With these words he again drew near to Helen, and she 
was about to carry her threat into execution, when Charley 
bounded between them. He was magnificent in his wrath, 
like a young Apollo strangling the Lernsean hydra, as he 
drew Helen back, and struck the Marquis a violent blow on 
the chest, which caused him to totter. He would have 
fallen had he not been supported by the rock behind him. 

The spot where this encounter took place is well known to 
my readers, I have no doubt. It was close to the Devil's 
Bridge, that narrow strip of wood arching over two beetling 
rocks, which descend sheer to the ground nearly four hun- 
dred feet. The view from the bridge is apt to render the 
most daring visitor dizzy, so slight seems the breastwork 
which guards him from destruction. On the flat table rock 
leading down to th^ bridge Helen and Charley wore now 



THE MARQUIS OF LANCING. 71 

standing, while the discomfited Marquis was recovering from 
the effect of the 6iidden assault. In a second, however, he 
was on his feet again, and yelling, " Dog, you would dare 
to strike me?" he rushed on my hero, and dealt him a 
Stinging lash across the face with his riding whip. 

The blow was fated to cost him dearly. Charley bounded 
on him like a madman, and they were soon locked in a 
close embrace. Over and over they turned in their frenzied 
efforts to gain the upper hand, till at length they rolled on 
to the bridge. But the Marquis was no match for Charley 
who had been brought up at the feet of Sambo Sutton, ana 
whose sanguinary contests with bargees had taught him the 
full use of his limbs. Charley soon gained the mastery, 
and, rising to a kneeling position, he pressed his adversary 
with all his power against the frail balustrade. Suddenly 
it gave way with a crash, and Charley had only just time to 
save himself, when the Marquis toppled over with a heavy 
lurch, and disappeared from the sight of the awe-stricken 
gazers. 

But the Marquis was not destined to die with his sins 
nnrepented; a friendly fir tree stretched out its arms just in 
the place to bar his passage, and his fall was broken. 
Fortunately for him his tailor was an honest man, and em- 
ployed no devil's dust manufacturers, for his coat nobly re- 
sponded to the violent exertion demanded from it, and 
sustained his weight. For a moment be hung in mid-air 
like one of those golden lambs we see suspended in our 
streets, and whose fleeces are so suggestive of the fat*, 
impending over customers. Then he managed to turn 
round, and, by an effort of almost superhuman strength, 
clutched at the branch. He pulled himself up, and so soon 
as Charley saw that his rival was in comparative safety he 
turned to Helen, who was lying senseless on the plateau. 

His efforts to recall her to life being fruitless, he rushed 
off for assistance, and she was soon carried down to the 
Bitter Saal, while the Marquis was removed from his exalted 
position, and recovered by the judicious application of 
brandy. But he did not seem at all grateful for his escape. 
He vowed bitter threats of vengeance against Charley, and 
could not be pacified until bis faithful Fitz promised that he 
would take care that the rascal should meet him. 

In the meanwhile Madame Leblanc was raving at Charley. 
She had only heard a vague account of the accident, but 
that was enough to tell her that all her hopes of catching 
the Marquis were gone irrevocably. In her fury she struck 



72 WILD OATS. 



at him; she cursed him and his family, vowed that they 
had been the ruin of her and hers ; and finally, finding 
herself powerless to avenge herself, she went off into a fit 
of hysterics, from which we will leave her to recover at 
leisure. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE DUEL. 



It is wonderful what a remarkable change the last few hours 
had effected in Charles Dashwood ; he had emerged from 
boyhood by one hound, and had assumed, in the presence 
of danger, all the feelings and attributes of a man. The 
bitter animosity he bore to the Marquis made him at times 
regret his safety; but then this gave way to a feeling of 
savage joy that he would be enabled to shoot him like a dog. 
He was determined that his enemy should not escape : if he 
declined to challenge him Charles made up his mind to 
insult him publicly in the rooms, and thus force him into 
a fight. In short, he was in a most bloodthirsty temper, 
and, though he had felt such bitter remorse at that awful 
moment when his adversary seemed doomed to a certain 
death, so strange is human nature that he now felt that his 
living was an insult, and that it was his bounden duty to 
wash out the outrage done to Helen in his blood. 

But he had no necessity to fear that the Marquis would 
try and escape his righteous vengeance; the story of the 
quarrel and the deadly struggle had been bruited about 
Baden in a hundred different forms, while elderly dames 
were wagging their heads affably together, and discussing 
my poor Helen's manifold sins and wickednesses. " It was 
only what they expected," they were unanimous in remark- 
ing; "those creatures who are always surrounded by men 
never come to any good ; and now there was a duel to be 
fought about her, and that nice young man, the Marquis, 
was going to risk his life for such a worthless creature;" 
and so they went on, until they had torn poor Helen into 
little shreds, while the poor girl, after a long and violent 
scene with her mother, and at length inducing her to enlist 



THE DUEL. 73 

to the true state of the case, was writing the following 
tear-stained note to my hero : — 

" Do not be angry, dearest, with your poor Helen, or 
think her wilful ; but I am forced by stern necessity to bid 
you come near me no more. If I were at liberty to tell you 
my secret, you would know what reasons move me to this 
step ; but the honour of another person whom I love dearly 
is at stake, and I must bid you an eternal farewell, even at 
the risk that you will form an unjust opinion of my conduct. 

" My mother, I am happy to say, now sees your conduct 
in the right light; she sails you the preserver of our honour, 
and would like to see you. But for my sake, dearest, keep 
away from the house: your presence would only render me 
more wretched, and add to the grief I now feel at parting 
from you — for we leave for Paris this very night. 

"I trust, dearest Charles, that we shall meet again, but 
not until you have quite made up your mind that we can 
never carry out the fond hopes we once formed. The barrier 
is insurmountable, find believe me when I say that yon 
can never be more than a brother to your broken-hearted 
Helen. Do not 'orbt my love. I feel at times that it is 
criminal, but I cannot prevent it; and I wiil fervently pray 
that this love may soon become purified, and that in time 
I may be able to meet you without a shudder at the past. 

" I earnestly implore you, then, dearest Charles, to wean 
your thoughts from all sinful love, and that you will learn 
to look on me as a sister. More I can never prove to you, 
and do not lacerate my heart by refusing me your support. 
I feel that great trials are in store for me, and in my hour 
of necessity it will be a true comfort to know that in you I 
can insure a protector. When the time arrives I will write 
to you, and then I feel sure you will hurry to help 

"Your broken-hearted sister, 
"Helen" 

This epistle was not at all suited to improve Master 
Charley's temper, for he could make nothing out of it at all. 
What obstacle could prove such an insurmountable barrier 
to his hopes ? What on earth could Helen mean by bidding 
him an eternal farewell, and then hoping to meet him again 
soon ? What light had she so wilfully to break nn engage- 
ment he had formed with her? He could not believe she> 
loved another ; but what was the meaning of that secret, and 
its being shared by some one she dearly loved? Was it 
Madame Leblanc who had forced this promise fitir hey 



74 WILD OATS. 

daughter ? Oh ! it was atrocious; but he would prove to her 
that he was not such a weak fool as to give way to a woman, 
who had only so recently remembered that she was Helen's 
mother. He sprang up to take his hat, when a quiet tap 
was heard at his door. Muttering some angry remark at the 
unwelcome intrusion, he growled out, " Entrez !" 

Who should make her appearance but the ever-myste- 
rious Julie ! She glided in with her usual noiseless step, 
and confronted the young man. Racing a finger on her 
lips, and then carefully locking the door, she walked up to 
him and hurriedly whispered, " Be careful ; I have not a 
moment to waste. My absence from the house must not be 
suspected. There is one there who is no friend of yours." 

More and more puzzled, Charles was going to speak, but 
Julie again interrupted him : — 

"Tell me you love that pale-faced English girl — you 
would marry her — give me your word of honour you. would 
marry her, and I will put proofs of her legitimacy In your 
hands. Hush! not a word; I will believe you: a Dash- 
wood never yet broke a promise. But not now; you must 
■come to me in Paris. Be at the Hotel Windsor during the 
first week in December. I will then tell you more, and 
perhaps give you the papers to which I allude. Ah ! I see 
you have had a letter from Miss Helen; but do not be 
downcast. There is some foul intrigue going on, but Julie 
Monthemar will find it out. Bennmber the time of ap- 
pointment, and not a word of th^s interview to any one, if 
you hope to succeed in your project." 

In a second she had glided from the room, and left 
Charley in a perfect state of amazement as to his future 
proceedings. True to his old motto of " wait and hope," he, 
however, determined on not going near Madame Leblanc's, 
but place implicit confidence in Julie's promises. He felt 
■certain that the mysterious waiting-maid could carry out 
anything she determined on doing, and he felt indisposed 
to hamper her movemeuts by any undue precipitation ; and 
in this, I think, he showed more sense than he has hitherto 
displayed. 

Another tap at the door, but this time of a far more 
energetic nature, interrupted his meditations, and in walked 
Captain Fitzspavin with a very martial air. The Marquis, 
after due reflection, and when the heat of passion had 
passed ofiv began to think that he had run risk enough 
about a woman whom he felt he could never win, and 
wished to get out of a durf :f he could. But to this Fitz 



THE DUEL. 75 

would not assent; the matter was so public ahead} that 
an apology would not satisfy public demand, and so with a 
very ill grace the Marquis deputed his gallant friend to 
bear a cartel of mortal defiance to his adversary. 

The matter was soon arranged, for Charles would be 
only too glad to drill a hole through the Marquis, and was 
not at all in a mood to offer any apology. It was settled 
that they should meet the next morning at eight o'clock 
near the " Favorite," and it was not till the Captain had left 
the room that Charley remembered he had no second— a 
rather important item in a duel of the present day. But a 
deus ex machina soon appeared in the person of my old 
friend Bobadil, who, like a war-horse, scented a fray afar 
off, and would have gone a hundred miles at any time to be 
present at a duel — whether as principal or second was ;i 
matter to him of perfect indifference. 

He came into the room jauntily humming that fine old 
tune of " Marlbrook," and lifted his hat with great dignity 
to Mr. Dashwood. 

" I hope I don't intrude, Mr. Dashwood ; but I just met 
Fitzspavin, who told me he fancied you had no second in 
your little affair, and suggested that I could be of service to 
you ; if so, command me." 

" I really am deeply indebted to you, for you have re- 
lieved me from a great difficulty. Pray may I ask whom I 
have the honour of addressing, though?" 

" Oh 1 I forgot that trifling matter. Here is my card. I 
am pretty well known in connection with such affairs as 
these. Let me see, last year was it? Yes, this very time 
last year I winged Count Strumpfenfels, who indulged in 
some impertinent remarks about my principal in that affair 
when the Kussian prince was killed. But you .were going 
to speak, I believe? Yes, I think some cold brandy and 
water would be very acceptable this hot weather. Pray 
allow me to ring the bell; don't disturb yourself." 

During the consumption of the brandy the Captain tried 
to enliven Charley by giving him various accounts of san- 
guinary combats of two which had come off near Baden 
during the last twenty years, and then suddenly turned to 
him, saying, "Let's feel your pulse." The examination 
proved highlj satisfactory, "for he went on, " You '11 do, my 
boy; pulse S3 calm as a sleeping infant. Well now, I 
don't mind lending you my family pistols. I wouldn't 
have done it, though, if 1 had any doubts about your 
mettle. I ve known some fellows as nervous on their first 



76 WILD OATS. 

meeting as a >">ung girl on her wedding-day; but, Lord 
bless you ! they t'oon get over it. When you ve been out as 
many times as 1 have, you'll feel it necessary for your 
health to have a Cght now and then." 

It was quite true Charley did not feel the slightest fear, 
although he had never fought a duel in his life more dan- 
gerous than with his fists. He only regretted that the 
morning had not already arrived, that he might punish the 
scoundrel who had dared to insult his Helen. After a long 
talk with the Captain, and arranging that he should cal. 
for him with a carriage at seven — Charley had suggested 
riding, but Bobadil pooh-poohed the idea, and told him he 
mustn't shake his nerves — they parted, the Captain saying, — 

" And mind you dress all in black. Have no faldelals 
about you to attract your adversary's attention. It's no 
use to throw any chance tway ; and besides, if any accident 
happens to you, you'll have gone into mourning for yourself 
beforehand." 

And with this somewhat ghastly joke the Captain finished 
the brandy bottle, and walled out of the room with a firm 
step, no doubt believing himself a highly virtuous and 
respectable member of society. Charley, when left alone, 
made no preparations for a sinister result. In truth, he 
nad not the remotest idea of being shot. He felt such a 
degree of indignation that he was confident he should punish 
the Marquis. He was for all the world like the avenging 
dei Franchi, whose mission it is to kill the Chevalier. Find- 
ing time, however, hanging somewhat heavily on his hands, 
he thought he might as well show at the rooms, and thus 
avert any suspicion on the part of the gendarmes; for, in 
police-ridden Germany, if you are not always visible you 
must necessarily be plotting mischief. 

I wonder how it is that people can be found in this world 
who spend every night of their stay in Baden in watching 
die eternal rolling of the ball and the parrot-cry of rouge 
tjagne et couleur. And yet it is perfectly true. Let the 
moon be shining ever so brightly, and wooing you to bathe 
yourself in her chaste light ; let the most tempting excursion 
be proposed, those habitues of Baden to whom 1 allude 
would regard it as a sin if they allowed anything to inter 
lore with their visit to the table. The groom-porters in the 
rooms are their chief friends, and they retire into corners 
with them, and talk mysteriously about the season when 
the red came up thirty-five times in succession, and nobody 
took advantage if it. Had it been the case what would have 



THE DUEL. 77 

become of monsieur? And this idea is so overwhelming 
that they leave off talking, as if they must meditate on the 
consequences iu private. Generally, though, they are 
harmless old fellows, and if you can persuade them to talk 
with you they can impart some very valuable information. 

But what a seedy, hang-dog lot are those gentry who 
come to Baden solely to play, and try those martingales 
which they have been studying all the winter, and which 
somehow always fail at the hour of need! What becomes 
of them as soon as the rooms shut up? They disappear 
from Baden with the croupiers, and turn up again with 
equal regularity. It is a mystery which I cannot solve. I 
am happy, though, that I once had occasion to call on a 
croupier iu his private capacity at Paris, and I found him 
very comfortably installed, and he gave me a very capital 
dinuer, and was altogether a well-bred and highly intelligent 
man. He was, however, ashamed of his profession, for he 
earnestly begged me not to drop a hint before his wife as to 
his summer avocations. She believed that he went to 
Baden for the benefit of his health. 

But I am growing sadly parenthetical, and I daresay my 
readers care very little for the rouye et noir table when 
they are absent from it. I doubt whether it would be the 
same, though, were they close by. At any rate my hero 
was not proof against the magic spell, and, according to the 
old German rule of Ungliich in Liebe, Gliiclc im Spiele, he won 
a considerable sum perfectly unconsciously. He put down 
a five-franc piece hap-hazard, and, Captain Bobadil coming 
up at the time, he turned to talk with him, and forgot to 
notice what the fate of his piece was. Some ten minutes 
after, a sudden buzz of conversation attracted his attention 
to the table, and he saw a quantity of gold and silver money 
piled up where his solitary five-franc piece had been. The 
gamblers regarded him with intense respect, and a polite 
inquiry from the croupier whether he wished to stake the 
whole enlightened him on the fact that he was a very con- 
siderable winner. He picked up the money with great 
carelessness, and the next time the luck changed. After a 
few more turns of alternating fortune Charley retired for the 
night, not forgetting to pass beneath Helen's windows en 
route ; but they were all darkened, and, in fact, the whole 
party were now comfortably settled at the Hotel de Paris in 
Stnisburg. 

The Count had returned from Paris with the necessary 
funds, and was highly delighted at the sudden turn events 



"<8 WILD OATS. 

had taken. The retirement of the Marquis left the field 
open for his own operations on Helen's heart, and, in cou- 
sequence, he rendered himself rather more disagreeable to 
her than usual by his intense politeness. Madame Leblanc, 
however, snapped him up very sharply, telling him to leave 
the child alone — she was not well ; and Julie, who heard this 
remark with extreme gratification, paid particular attention 
to Helen for the rest of the evening. Poor girl ! she sadly 
wanted some comforter in her present trials ; but there was 
not much chance of finding that in the household of Madame 
Leblanc, where selfishness ruled predominant. 

The morning broke cold and gloomy, as if nature were 
assuming mourning for the wicked deed that was to be 
done; and Charley felt thoroughly wretched as he drove 
along that dreary road to Oos, and looked out on the happy 
peasants tilling their fields. His night had not been so 
tranquil as he had expected ; he had tossed restlessly on his 
bed, and could not drive away the thought that he was 
about to commit a great sin. That false sophistry which 
had sustained his wrath, and made him regard the punish- 
ment of the Marquis as a righteous deed, had been dispelled 
by calm reflection, and he could not conceal from himself 
that his motives, disguise them as he might under the false 
plea of honour, were murderous. And then the feeling 
would creep over him, struggle against it as he might, that 
he might fall himself; for, if every bullet has its billet, 
nothing guaranteed him against the possibility of his death 
warrant being signed. Under the influence of these sensa- 
tions it may be supposed that his companion, with his cold, 
practical way of regarding duelling, was very repugnant to 
him, so Charles very churlishly wrapped himself up in his 
cloak and tried to feign sleep. 

But the weariest road must have an end, and so the 
" Favorite " was reached at last. They passed the picket 
house in safety, and soon left the carriage beneath a clump 
of trees, and went in search oftbe enemy, who had reached 
the ground before them. The Marquis did not appear to 
have spent a very comfortable night either. In fact, he had 
sat up all night, keeping up his spirits with copious libations 
of brandy and water, and screwing his courage up to the 
sticking point. In reality, the chances between the opponents 
were unfair in the extreme. The Marquis, with his ten 
thousand a year, and his estates in every component of the 
Britannic Isles, was going to risk his life against a man 
who had his fortune still to make. To have rendered the 



THE DUEL. 79 

odds fair, lie should have been armed with a revolver 
against his opponent's single barrel. 

Still the sigiit of Charley spurred him into an extempore 
excitement, and he grinned villanously as he noticed the 
deep wale his whip had left on the young man's face; and 
this fiendish glance, I am sorry to say, roused all Charles's 
worst passions. All his generous scruples and determina- 
tion not to fire at his adversary were dispelled, and murder, 
cool and premeditated, was the only feeling that swayed 
him. 

The ground was quickly measured, and Bobadil produced 
his pistols with conscious pride. They were old, battered, 
clumsy-looking implements, with ominous notches and 
inlet plates of silver, indicating the numerous occasions on 
which they had done good service ; but Captain Fitzspavin 
turned them about contemptuously, which brought a hot 
flush over Bobadil's face, and suggested that his own should 
be employed. These were of a very different description 
with hair triggers, and all the modern improvements of 
science ; and even Bobadil was forced to allow that there 
would be some pleasure in being shot by such admirable 
pistols. " Playthings, though," he remarked; "they'll fire 
high, Dashwood ; so aim low, and let fly as soon as your 
man is covered." 

The opponents were placed in position, and the Marquis 
evidently quailed at the stern glance Charley fixed upon 
him. Pie drew himself up in a corkscrew fashion to offer 
the least possible angle to his adversary ; but while doing 
so his hand shook, his finger touched the ticklish hair 
trigger ; there was a sudden explosion and a yell of pain, 
and the Marquis fell. He had managed very cleverly to 
shoot himself through the foot. Charley fired his pistol in 
the air — against all rules of polite murder, be it said, for the 
word had not been given — and walked up to his fallen foe. 

He held out his hand to him, and said with a blush, and 
yet in a firm, honest tone, " You see, my lord, the luck 's 
against you ; we had better shake hands and let the matter 
drop. I was, perhaps, too hasty yesterday, and I am sorry 
now that I struck you. You had evidently been drinking, 
and I was a fool to take you up so seriously. You will 
think better of it, and make an apology to Miss Mowbray, 
I am sure." 

The Marquis bit his lip and tried to turn from the prof- 
fered hand ; but the lad's honest face exercised an unwonter 1 
influence over him. After a short struggle he said, 



80 WILD OATS. 

" You re a doosid good fellow, Dashwood, and Helen s an 
angel. I behaved like a demnitiou cad, and I 'm very sorry 
for it now." And the Marquis really felt for a few moments 
as if he would have got on better in the world with such a 
friend as Dashwood, instead of trusting so implicitly to 
Fitzspavin. Of course Bobadil could not keep silence in 
this touching reconciliation, so he began to protest that 
they had behaved like men of honour; and, if anybody 
doubted the truth of his statement, " he was quite at his 
service." The compliment was intended for the company, 
the threat for Fitzspavin ; but, as that gentleman was not in 
the habit of fighting unless he could derive some benefit 
from it, he most handsomely acquiesced in the truth of the 
remark, and they all left the ground apparently the best of 
friends. 

When Charley returned to his hotel he found a letter 
awaiting him, which had been travelling from Oxford to 
London, and thence to Baden. It was from his uncle, Sir 
Amyas, and requested his immediate presence at Giir- 
kenhof for the discussion of important family affairs. It 
was written in a far more cordial tone than had hitherto 
been the case, and among other important items requested 
the young man to bring with him a list of articles as 
specified, which could only be obtained in London. This 
list Charley forwarded to his friend Darcy, with instructions 
that they should be sent on immediately, and while wait- 
ing their arrival he wrote to Sir Amyas to account for his 
delay, and expressed an intention of being with him in the 
course of a week. That delay was pregnant with very fatal 
consequences, which my hero was far from anticipating. 

In the meanwhile, however, he devoted a great portion of 
his time to sitting with the Marquis, whom he found to be 
really a decent sort of fellow, and he liked him the more 
for his- evident affection for Helen. Milord Lancing wa3 
now able to appreciate her good qualities in the forced re- 
tirement of a sick room, and, I believe, was sincerely sorry 
that the Nessus-like trammels of conventionalism prevented 
him from making her his wife. But what would his rela- 
tives have said to such a mesalliance ? What a rage would 
his mother be in if she thought he had proposed for a girl 
of low birth ! It is true that she had herself been an 
actress ; but she had so long been a marchioness in her 
own right, and had gained such influence over her son 
during a long minority, that I don't think he would have 
dared to offend her by marrying without her permission. 



BY THE SAD SEA WAVES. £> I 

When tlie time came, however, for their parting, the Mar- 
quis cordially shook Dashwood's hand, and hegged liiui to 
apply to him whenever he wanted a lift, which Charley pro- 
mised to do in that vague, general way so usual with 
young men who have a great opinion of themselves, and 
believe that they will be able to carve their way to fortune 
and station without any external Help. 



CHAPTER X. 

BY THE SAD SEA WAVES. 

Pentgate was in its glory. Not a trace of winter pinching 
was longer to be noticed on the faces of the smiling trades- 
people ; the lodging-house keepers who had temporarily in- 
trusted their plate to the keeping of an uncle had long ago 
reclaimed it; in short, the unanimous cry was, "There 
never was such a season, and we- shall all make our for- 
tunes." Prices had risen to an extraordinary height, owing 
to the demand for rooms far exceeding the supply, and all 
the clergymen's widows, who seem by some beneficent law 
of nature to pass from the rectory to the seaside lodging- 
house, looked benignantly on the stranger who ventured to 
suggest that four pounds a week was rather high for a back 
bedroom on the third floor, which had originally been de- 
signed for a cupboard. There was not the slightest com- 
pulsion ; if the gentleman did not like it he could please 
himself elsewhere, but such were their terms, and they 
could not think of taking less. 

Now, what was the peculiar attraction possessed by Pent- 
gate it would be difficult to say. It stood on a bleak south 
coast, which soon dissipated all dreams of a " sunny south" 
by fierce easterly blasts, or a steady, persistent drizzle which 
laughed mackintosh wraps to scorn. When the tide was 
-nut, the sands were wet and sloppy, and you caught a violent 
cold if you ventured on them ; when it was in, your ramble 
was restricted to an excruciating gravel-walk, against which 
no precautions could guard your favourite corn. The town 
itself looked like that human head joined to the equine neck 
which friend Horace objurgates ; and you could scarcely re- 
strain your laughter, as you beheld a maguificent series of 
crescents and piles of buildings, which stood as warnings to 



82 WILD OATS. 

speculators, unfinished and falling to decay on every avail- 
able spot. In fact, Pentgate had been troubled with dis- 
quieting dreams of ambition at an early period of its 
history. A royal duke had once resided in the vicinity for 
six weeks, and, as the natural result, the speculative natives 
had immediately proceeded to erect a row of palaces suited 
for the contingent dukes who would honour their little 
town in future. Unfortunately, the royal duke forgot by 
the next season that such a place as Pentgate existed ; and 
the buildings stood as a solemn warning " not to put faith 
in princes." 

Some over-sanguine individuals, who would persist in be- 
lieving that the first loss had not been the best, finished a 
portion of these mansions, which had then gone through 
strange phases of brick-and-mortar existence. First, they 
had been converted into hotels, with no other result than 
to send the landlords into the Bankruptcy Court ; then they 
Were turned into huge lodging caravansarais, but re- 
mained empty, because the proprietors asked such absurd 
prices. Their final and necessary transition was into 
boarding-schools, whose promoters promised the benefits of 
seaside air and a first-rate education for twenty pounds 
a year. The schoolmasters made some money out of their 
pupils; but the unhappy owners got but little out of the 
sohoolmasters, and so this scheme eventually died out frem 
sheer inanition. 

At last the little town of Pentgate was taken by storm 
and beld against all comers by an army of half-pay officers, 
with any quantity of children, who were continually en- 
gaged in making both ends of a very short purse meet. It 
then settled down into a sedate and respectable town, and 
began to believe that its mission was to serve as the refuge 
for genteel dulness. Old fogeydom reigned triumphant 
The half-pay gentlemen, with their usual amiability, looked 
down with supreme contempt on any pelcin who dared to 
come betwixt the wind and their nobility, and formed a 
serried coterie, which withstood all attacks of the invaders. 
By degrees, however, a small phalanx of retired tradespeople 
and lawyers was drawn up on the outskirts of the town, 
and these laid siege to the social Sebastopol, which for a 
long time resisted all their assaults. At length, by indomit- 
able perseverance, some of the gentlemen entered into an 
offensive and defensive alliance with the officers, and this 
led to au armistice between their families. The high con- 
tracting powers agreed that they would combine their efforts 



BY THE SAD SEA WAVES. 8f 

lo !;eep out any further interlopers, and thus Pentgate was 
to be defended against the outer barbarians. But the 
officers' ladies could not condescend beyond this. There 
was no marrying or giving in marriage between the two an- 
tagonistic classes ; and, though the young people were com- 
pelled to dance together at the balls, the acquaintance was 
not carried beyond a bow on the promenade. 

Now, this might be very satisfactory to the parties con- 
cerned ; but the tradespeople could not but look on the 
movement as attacking their own vitality. It was not the 
fashion to deal to any very large extent with them, for the 
gentry considered, very unreasonably, that sugar was better 
without sand, and tea preferable direct from China than 
from the adjacent sloe-hedges, and they procured all their 
articles of consumption from London. The tradesmen, 
therefore, combined, on finding their profits daily diminish- 
ing, and determined on advertising Pentgate largely, as a 
retreat equally adapted for the contemplative philosopher 
and the dashing lady of fashion. 

The hubbub this bold step aroused among the officers' 
ladies was fearful in the extreme, and they had serious 
thoughts of retiring en masse; hut reflection taught them 
that such an expense would be attended with no beneficial 
result. Go where they would, those odious cockneys would 
annoy them ; and perhaps Pentgate, as ten miles from any 
railway station, would be safe from the foe. In this, however, 
they were mistaken, and Pentgate for awhile seemed in a fair 
way to regain its pristine fashion. Old men rubbed their 
hands and talked about the "ducal season;" but, unfortu- 
nately, it was the old story of the " goose with the golden 
eggs." The more reputable visitors grew disgusted with 
exorbitant charges and the impertiuence of the half-pay 
people, and did not return ; and the last state of Pentgate 
soon became worse than the first. During the summer it 
was always crowded, it is true, for the number of watering- 
places within easy reach of London is limited; but the 
society which collected was not of the first water, and the 
half-pays were perfectly justified in keeping aloof with 
greater pertinacity than before. 

Seduced by the advertisement to which I have alluded, 
and flattered with the prospect of quietude held out, Mr. 
Worthiugton had removed his household gads to Pentgate, 
where the family was located for the summei, he visiting 
them on every Saturday night, and returning to the c/Ece 
on Monday morning The Miss Dashwoods had fee*i> 



84 WILD OATS. 

greatly improved since their departure from Birchmere. 
Mr, Worthington had spared no pains or expense upon 
them, and they had really been working hard to make up 
for the deficiency in their education. In the meantime, 
however, Mr. James Worthington had found opportunities 
to whisper a very old, and yet ever new tale in Jane Dash- 
wood's ear, and she had been graciously pleased to give 
him a hearing. In short, it was all settled that they were 
to be man and wife before they had grown too old to enjoy 
the blessings of wedded life. 

Now, I daresay my readers will think Mr. Worthing- 
ton, sen., very foolish for even listening to such a thing. 
Here was his son only just two-and-twenty, and the girl 
eighteen. He ought to have waited, at least, until his son 
had secured a position in society, and had a home prepared 
for his young wife equal to the one he was taking her from. 
But Mr. Worthington had a strong belief in the virtue of 
self-reliance. He had risen from the rank of office-boy to 
become partner, and then sole representative of that eminent 
legal firm, "Staples and Worthington;" and he did not 
think that his son should speculate on what his father could 
give him, as our young men are too much in the habit of 
doing. Of course, he did not wish that his son should go 
through the same social gradations as himself — that was not 
necessary ; still he did not think it right that James should 
quietly step into his shoes without having done his manly 
devoir in proof that he was fitted to wear them. Hence 
Mr. James Worthington was now a clerk in a Manchester 
house, with a rising salary of i!120 a year, and if he proved 
that he possessed the requisite energy, and wished to start 
for himself, his father would have no objection to furnish 
him with the funds required for that laudable object. 

Now, had Mr. Worthington been a prudent man, he 
would doubtlessly have made an attorney of his son, and 
have had a successor in him ready made. But Mr. Wor- 
thington was a crotchety gentleman, as I daresay that my 
readers will already have noticed, and the greatest of his 
crotchets was that our legal system is a curse to the country. 
On this point he would at times wax very eloquent, and 
make sarcastic remarks about fattening on the life-blood of 
the widow and orphan, and when he gave his wife a cheque 
for housekeeping expenses would remark, " You needn't be 
afraid to take it, my dear; it isn't Judas' money. I sold up 
no poor people for law costs, nor have I done any social 
vampirism;" and Mrs. Worthington would smile and kiss 



BY THE SAD SEA WAVES. 85 

Mr. Worthington affectionately, while she thanked God very 
fervently that her husband was not like the other publicans 
and sinners. 

Now, it will naturally be understood by my readers, that, 
with such heterodoxical opinions, Mr. Worthington was 
not a rich man. In fact, apart from a few thousands he 
had saved up in his younger days, when he took a deeper 
interest in legal matters than at present, and had not ex- 
amined so closely into the manner in which his partnership 
profits were obtained, he had only the fair income of the 
office to live upon. This money he determined not to touch, 
and he had settled it on his wife to secure her from penury, 
if he died before her. The office should expire with him, 
and thus there would be one less temptation for scoundrelism 
in the world. 

But how to get the money to set his boy up in the world 
— that was a puzzler, and lie thought over it long and 
anxiously. At last he consulted with his wife, and she, 
like a foolish woman, at once insisted that he should employ 
the money settled on her. She was quite sure her James 
would never see her starve, and she was only too happy to 
further her dear boy's interest by all the means in her 
power. How true is that French saying about it being 
only the first step that counts ! Mr. Worthington had never 
speculated a sixpence in his life, and, now that he felt he 
was going to commit an injustice to his wife by using her 
money for his son, he began looking about for some new 
little plan by which he could double his capital at once, 
and so serve both without injury to either. 

For a man who has money to lose there is no place where 
he can attain his object more easily than in London; and 
Mr. Worthington, shrewd as he was in other matters, was a 
mere babe in the hands of city men. He went through the 
usual routine ; first he won a little, then lost a little ; then 
he gained again, and finally, growing tired of such slow 
methods of gaining a fortune, he entered upon a nice little 
system of time bargains, with which he combined railway 
directorship. I need not add that within six months the 
seven thousand pounds were gone, with every shilling that 
could be raised on the security of the business, or by ex- 
changing very worthless stamped paper for solid gold, and 
Mr. Worthington woke up one fine morning to find himself 
ruined. 

It was too bad, and all for the want of two thousand 
pounds to contango. It was a moral certainty that the present 



66 



W1U) OATS. 



state of depression in the share market could not last: if he 
could only tide over this settlement he would be saved, and, 
onoe his own back, and, perhaps, something to boot, he 
would take an oath to leave off all speculation. But where 

to get the money A vaunt, tempter! breathe not a word 

about that trust money belonging to the two girls. But 
why had Colonel Dacre left it in his hands for investment? 
It was now lying idle at his banker's : surely Providence had 
destined it as a means for saving him. 

It is needless to recapitulate all the arguments Mr. Wor- 
thington used to reconcile his conscience, and thus at sixty 
he was preparing to devour the pittance of the orphans, 
against which he had been railing all his life. Mr. Wor- 
thington, in short, risked the money, and lost. He then 
woke up to the consciousness that he had been a scoundrel 
and a villain, and that the best thing he could do would be 
to shoot himself ; perhaps that step would save his poor 
family from disgrace. And so this honest old man had 
gradually descended from his exalted position, had become 
a robber, and was going to consummate his crimes by self- 
murder But he yearned to see his wife once more before 
he died : he could not leave the world at once without bid- 
ding farewell to the beloved partner of his past joys, and so, 
with a murderer's resolve in his heart, he went down to 
Pentgate, determined never to leave the place again alive. 

Jane had noticed the sad change which had been going 
on in the once happy old man; but he had never been so 
strange as on this occasion. They walked on the Sunday 
afternoon to an adjacent village, where they attended church, 
and, after the service was over, Mr. Worthington had a 
strange fancy to examine the gravestones. One remote 
nook, where the unhonoured dead lay, particularly attracted 
bis attention, and he expressed a strange wish to lie there. 
" You '11 miss the old man, Jenny, when he 's gone from 
you, I hope," he then went on to say, fondly stroking her 
hair; "but what does it matter where my old bones lie? 
Better thus than under a lying tombstone, which vaunts 
virtues which I never possessed. What does an old rogue 
like I am care for honourable burial ? I ought to be too 
happy to escape being hung in an iron cage, like that Jerry 
Abershaw I remember seeing when I was a boy." 

Jane began to feel very uncomfortable, and when she 
reached home imparted her fears to Mrs. Worthington; 
but that worthy lady, never having known trouble in any 
shape, was not inclined to feel anxiety about her husband 



BY THE SAD SEA WAVES. 87 

from the mere report of a silly child ; and the affectionate 
way in which he talked with her about old times soon re- 
lieved her mind of any latent apprehension about his 
sanity. 

But mad Mr. Worth iugton certainly was, or else he would 
not have been standing before a looking-glass the next 
morning, with a razor in his hand and his throat bare, 
when Jane topped at his door to summon him to breakfast, 
and, obtaining no response, stepped lightly in. 

" Oh, Mr. Worthington, what can you be thinking of? 
What are you going to do with that horrid razor? Give 
it me directly;" and, with a frantic bound, she tore it from 
his hand, and then sank into a chair and a violent burst of 
tears. 

" Only going to rid the world of an old scoundrel, my 
dear, who has cumbered it too long," he replied very coolly, 

"Oh, Mr. Worthington, how can you talk so? You 
must be mad, quite mad!" Jane added, stamping her foot 
passionately. 

" Mad, my dear girl! I am as sane as you are; but when 
you hear that I have ruined you all, and robbed you of your 
fortune, I think you will hand me back that razor, and let 
me finish what I was about." 

■' And do you think, then, that any of us care about 
money in comparison with your life? Oh, dear guardian! 
I thought you were a religious man, but I am afraid I have 
been sadly deceived." 

" Pooh, pooh, little girl, don't try to teach me. I tell you 
I have gambled away all your money, and I must pay the 
penalty with my life. They '11 say I was suffering from 
temporary insanity, and all will be hushed up, while, if I 
live, I shall be pointed at as a robber — an ogre who devoured 
young girls. You don't know what you 're talking about. 
Be off, and leave me at peace." 

"Peace! There can be no peace when you have such 
wicked thoughts in your head. Suppose our money is gone 
— that is nothing. James will share his income with you, 
and many years of happiness will yet be in store for you." 

Here was a situation ! Mr. Worthington, a man who 
had long attained years of discretion, to he tutored by a 
little chit of a girl! It was too absurd, and, worse than all, 
he was beginning to fancy she was in the right. After ail, 
he thought, there was a better way of undergoing his punish- 
ment for his past sins than by running away from them, and 
the best way he could show his repentanco would be by 



88 WILD OATS. 

working to support his family, instead of leaving them 
helpless. 

I think my old friend was really mad all this time, and 
that, if he had reflected before, he would have come to this 
opinion sooner ; but the idea of suicide had flattered him, 
and he had nursed it affectionately. He had regarded 
death as a glorious expiation for all the wrongs he had 
done ; but at the voice 01 the gentle girl he gradually began 
to see the enormity of his offence, and that strong feeling 
of religion which had been his main stay through life again 
supported him. He therefore said very quietly, and without 
any attempt at the recklessness which he had assumed so 
much against his will, — 

" There, there ! you 're a good little girl, and I 'm an old 
fool. Don't be frightened; I am quite calm now, and you 
needn't be afraid of me any more. 1 '11 go up to town, and 
have a talk with James, and we'll see what can be done in 
the matter. Perhaps things won't turn out so badly after 
all ; so now we '11 go to breakfast, and mind, Jenny, not a 
word about this to any one. You may trust me that I shall 
have no such thoughts again." 

And thus, with their positions thoroughly reversed, the 
old man and the young girl went down hand in hand to the 
breakfast room, where Mrs. Worthington was gently won- 
dering what had detained them so long. 

When Mr. Worthington had once made up his mind to 
any right course of action, nothing would turn him from it. 
He therefore told his wife that sudden losses would pro- 
bably compel a great change in their mode of life, and left 
her to prepare for the intended alteration. He then wrote 
to Colonel Dacre a manly and straightforward avowal of his 
conduct, which caused no slight surprise to that gallant 
officer, who, thinking that the loss of the girls' fortune was 
partly the result of his own neglect, promptly wrote to 
offer them a home. But they would not hear of leaving 
their friends, and it was a long time before Susan could be 
induced, by the persuasions of her elder sister, to accept the 
offer, and thus relieve them from the burden of her sup- 
port. 

But Mr. Worthington could not be induced by any 
remonstrances to continue his office. He said he was not 
fitted, after his one great fault, to give fair advice to honest 
folk who came to consult him. He would not again have 
any funds intrusted to his care, and so the only thing left 
was to sell off at once. The furniture at Mecklenburgh 



BY THE SAD SEA WAVES. 89 

Square was carefully inspected, and sufficient being saved 
to furnish a small house in one of the most back streets of 
Islington, the remainder was sold, and the family saved 
from an annoyance of debt, which is always in an inverse 
ratio to the amount. The man who owes .£10,000 walks 
with head upraised through Regent Street, while he who 
owes 10,000 pence has to dodge round back ways, and take 
a careful survey of the street before he ventures beyond the 
safe seclusion of his front door. 

As soon as the family had settled down in their new 
home, Mr. Worthington, sen., began to look about him for 
some employment. Of course he found nothing ; for, 
though friends were bountiful in promises, an old man of 
sixty is not the most useful article to employ in an office. 
At length, wearied and worn out with hoping against hope, 
he made a sudden resolution to go to Australia, and no re- 
monstrances were availing to keep him at home. He would 
not be a burden to his son ; and so, finding that nothing 
would change his resolve, a sum of money was collected 
among friends to pay his expenses and allow him some 
money to exist upon, while Jane and James and mamma 
were to remain in England, and try whether they could 
keep the wolf from the door. 

But, before the old gentleman started, he was determined 
to see his boy settled for life, and the marriage took place. 
Jane had no friends who cared to prevent it, and her 
brother, perhaps, was not sorry to have her off his hands, 
for his own troubles were commencing about this time ; 
so in the month of October, and with the most suicidal 
weather, affording a bad augury of future felicity, they were 
married. A boy husband and a child wife took those solemn 
vows which made them one flesh, perfectly blind to the re- 
sponsibilities that awaited them, and believing that they had 
a certain prospect of happiness in their love and one hun- 
dred and twenty pounds a year. 

Within a week from the wedding old Worthington was 
undergoing all those atrocious penalties which await men 
who are bold enough to go down to the great sea in ships. 
Still he kept his spirits up wonderfully, and between the 
paroxysms of illness was bound to confess to himself that 
he had been an old fool to think of running away from tho 
world, when he had such loving hearts still left to pray for 
him and hope in old England 



90 WILD OATS. 



CHAPTER XI. 

ONE HCNDKED AND TWENTY POUNDS A YEAB. 

The young couple were now left to themselves to try the 
experiment of living on a limited annual income, though 
hitherto they had never known what the real value of 
money was. When Jane, therefore, had a sum of thirty 
pounds handed over to her for the first quarter's housekeep- 
ing, the only idea she formed was that it was a perfectly in- 
exhaustible purse; and, as she was enabled to procure an 
amount of credit at starting, calculated on the apparent 
value of her furniture, things went en very pleasantly. So 
long as the money lasted, Jane thought there was no reason 
why she or her husband should begrudge anything in 
reason; and hence they were sedulous visitors to theatres 
and concerts, just as in the olden time; while Mrs. Wor- 
thington stopped at home to mind house. Then, on Sun- 
days, her James liked a country excursion. Poor fellow! 
he was so fagged all the week at that horrid office. But 
all these things cost money; and, by a very simple pro- 
cess, at the end of two months Jane found herself without 
a shilling, and with a month to wait before any available 
funds were receivable. Now, this is the very worst position 
in which a young housekeeper can be placed ; for although, 
by clever management in London, you can make an almost 
unbounded use of that blessed institution of credit, on 
which all our commercial transactions are based, there 
are a hundred domestic items which nlust be paid for. 
Under certain circumstances it is easier to buy a suit of 
clothes than to pay for having a pair of boots soled. James 
tried to stave off the difficulty by borrowing at the office; 
but this was a very finite resource. At length quarter- 
day arrived, and with it a very pretty little array of bills. 
Jane was perfectly horrified to find that they quite ex- 
hausted her money. "What could she do now when she had 
three months to wait for more? This was a very embarrass- 
ing question for the young couple ; and at last it was decided 
that James should pay a visit to his " uncle," and deposit in 
his temporary care the few jewels which Jane had as her 
mother's legacy. Now this is not the best way of correcting 



one hundred and twenty tounds a vf.au. Ill 

improvident habits; and I am sorry to say that, before the 
second quarter-day arrived, a great many visits of the same 
nature had been paid, and a little sheaf of duplicates col- 
lected, which Jane would regard with blank amazement and 
almost comical despair. 

It is very difficult for those who have been accustomed to 
habits of luxury to realise all at once the sudden transition 
to strict economy : they cannot be brought to understand why 
they must limit their wants by their income, or why they 
should not indulge in those things which have become 
almost a second nature to them. Mrs. Worthington was an 
invalid, too, by this time, owing to her continued worry 
about her poor husband, and the doctor had penetrated into 
the house. We all know how difficult it is to remove that 
leech till he has gorged himself with the blood of his 
victims. From aristocratic notions, too, they had sent for 
the old family doctor, who advised various expensive dainties 
to restore his patient's delicate appetite, and these must be 
procured at all risks, for both son and daughter could not 
allow their mother to notice that they were at all pressed 
for money. 

With the third quarter Mrs. Worthington, junior's con- 
finement was impending, and, as a necessary consequence, 
only a portion of the bills could be paid. The tradespeople, 
after some hesitation, consented to wait, and made up for 
the annoyance of outstanding money by sending in bad 
goods at increased charges. Then a boy was born, and, 
though James was a pattern husband, and stayed at home 
for the first fortnight, performing the greater portion of the 
old gin drinking nurse's duties, still there must be limits to 
human endurance, and he began to think cold meat four 
times running was a little more than he could stand; so 
he grew into the habit of dining out, and the invidious com- 
parison he drew between the attention and cleanliness ai 
his inn and the dirty maid of all work at home was not ai 
all flattering to the latter. But the worst of all was that 
he began to find brandy and water a very excellent digestive 
after dinner, and very necessary for his health. 

By the time Jane got about again the confusion at home 
was worse confounded, and she was sadly annoyed by duns. 
Then began a heart-breaking appeal to relatives for assist- 
ance, which was bestowed grudgingly, and at last refused, 
and James thought he would try his fortune in betting; so 
he began by sowing half-crowns broadcast at the betting 
offices which at that period disgraced our metropolis, and 



92 WILD OATS. 

though at times lie won considerable sums, in many in- 
stances the proprietors had bolted when he went to receive 
it, and in others, when he did receive the money.it was not 
of much advantage to him in a domestic point of view. 
A slight gleam of hope came with an increase of his salary 
to one hundred and fifty pounds a year, but by this time 
they were inextricably involved in the net of debt. 

At last James Worthington felt that something must be 
done, and that promptly; so by great persuasion he induced 
two friends to be security for him at a loan office, and he 
was enabled to borrow one hundred pounds. With this 
money a portion of the more pressing debts was paid off, 
but at the same time a fatal facility for incurring more 
obtained. First, the instalments were paid regularly enough, 
then he began to fall a little behindhand, and it was ouly 
with great difficulty he could recover lost ground. Finally, 
he had to give a bill of sale over his furniture, and that 
staved off ruin — for a time at least. 

All this while poor Jane was experimentalising how she 
could reduce her expenses; but, although she purchased every 
new Cookery Book for the Million, and tried the series of 
receipts by which a household was to be supported for an 
infinitesimal sum, she generally found that she was not one 
halfpenny richer in the end. Though she worked like a 
galley slave, and much harder than any servant would have 
done ; though she went about in dresses which a servant 
would have disdained, still nothing was of any use — tho 
expenses went on increasing and the comfort decreasing in 
geometric ratio. 

And this is the very fact which will explain Jane's un- 
happy attempts at housekeeping : that little word " servant" 
will account at once for the wreck of her domestic comfort. 
In her ignorance of family matters she had been forced to 
trust to a servant, and that had, in great measure, caused 
her embarrassments. Jane was herself too confiding to sus- 
pect others of robbing her, and it was not for a long time 
that she detected that her servant was supporting a small 
family at her expense. When the proof was rendered pal- 
pable by ajealous policeman, who stopped the servant leaving 
the house with a leg of mutton, sundry loaves, and pats of 
butter, Jane cried at the depravity of human nature, paid 
the girl's wages, and sent her off. The next that came was 
honest, but equally stupid ; and the waste she occasioned 
was just as expensive as the theft of the former servant. 
Then Jane tried the experiment of doing the household work 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY POUNDS A YEAR. 93 

herself, with the assistance of an unclean old woman popu- 
larly known as a charwoman ; but she was too fond of going 
round the corner for gin, and generally fell into the coal 
scuttle by six in the evening. 

I need not dwell on this subject much longer. By the 
time Jane's second child was born she had degenerated into 
a slatternly, untidy woman, and her beauty was almost 
entirely destroyed by hard work and corroding care; while 
her husband was far too fond of drinking, and, conse- 
quently, of grumbling at the way in which he was worked 
at the office. The death of the old lady entailed fresh 
expenses upon them, and a distress levied by the landlord, 
which led to a most ignoble dispute about the value of the 
bill of sale, that was followed by James's arrest and con- 
finement in Whitecross Street prison. 

There was no other course open to him than a passage 
through the Insolvent Court. He went up, was opposed by 
a creditor or two, and remanded, the commissioner think- 
ing it a very bad case that he should have incurred such 
debts with the excellent income he possessed. During his 
imprisonment Jane rubbed along, she hardly knew how, in 
a cheap lodging, tormented by fears about her children and 
the difficulty of procuring food. At last James was a free 
man again, and the world was all before him where to choose. 
He had no prospect of returning to his old office, and, in- 
deed, his late conduct there had predisposed bis employers 
against him, and he picked up a precarious livelihood by 
hanging about betting offices and public-houses, too proud 
to beg, and yet not ashamed to pester every friend from 
whom he could obtain a hearing for assistance. 

Such was the melancholy termination of Jane's dream of 
wedded happiness. In little more than two years she was 
beggared, and regarded as a useless encumbrance by her 
once so affectionate James. And yet I can hardly say she 
is to be severely blamed for the result. Consider her youth 
and inexperience, and we must not judge her too harshly. 
But one thing is certain — so long as our girls are brought up 
in the present system, and are educated to become clerks' 
wives, with the wants and desires of ladies of fashion, so 
surely will such lamentable results be produced as I have 
had to describe in Jane Dashwood's case. 

At length, when matters came to the worst, they began to 
mend, as usual. Susan, who was being carefully trained by 
Mrs. Dacre, by whom she was regarded as a daughter, per- 
suaded the Colonel to come forward once more, and positively 



WILD OATS. 

for the last time, to assist her sister. By his interest young 
Worthington procured a situation in that last refuge for 
the destitute, a railway audit office ; and, though the salary 
was only twenty-five shillings a week, it was paid fortnightly, 
and that was of wonderful assistance to the struggling pair. 
Having no longer such pressing necessity to forestall their 
income, and knowing the hopelessness of trying to run into 
debt, they lived within their income, and soon began to get 
straight again. A small house was furnished for them once 
more, and, chastened by their sufferings, they soon became 
happy and comfortable. 

They had not been living thus for any great length of time 
when a long-expected letter arrived from their father. With 
his old obstinacy Mr. Worthington had not written until he 
had good news to impart, for he had no desire to make them 
uncomfortable on his account. Now that he had seized 
Fortune by one of her wings, and held her so tightly that 
ebe was obliged to make a compromise for her escape, he 
wrote the queerest possible account of his rambles. It 
seemed as if he had become a young man again to har- 
monise with his new home, and had tried every possible 
scheme before he could hit on the right one. He had been 
in turn solicitor's clerk, waiter at an hotel, then government 
employe, then had gone " up country" to look about him 
with some money he had saved. After awhile he had 
turned sheep farmer; but that did not suit him, although he 
allowed he made a very tidy sum at it. He had then gone 
down to Sydney again, and entered into business as a 
general merchant; but a sudden glut of the market ruined 
him, and he did not know where to begin again. 

" At this time," he wrote, " when things were looking the 
bluest, and I didn't know exactly where to turn for a mouth- 
ful of bread, which is very difficult to get in Australia, my 
boy, unless you have some regular employment, and I was 
even thinking of entering the government service as stone- 
breaker, I felt a tap on the shoulder. It was a man of the 
name of Koper, whom I had known in London, and had 
been able to do him some slight service." (The old gentle- 
man's modesty prevented him saying that in the course of 
business he bad been obliged to put in an execution, but 
bad been so moved by Eoper's appeals for mercy that he 
had paid the money out of his own pocket.) " We had a jaw 
about matters, and he said be would be happy to do every, 
thing for me in his power. Well, to end a long story, I 
agreed to accompany him to his home at Stapleton, and I 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY POUNDS A YEAB. 95 

had no sooner got there than I found the employment 
I had been looking for so long. I turned auctioneer. I got 
some money from Roper, and began selling for others and 
buying for myself. In the last year I have cleared J21500, 
and have a comfortable home, for my jokes please the people 
here, and nobody must sell for them except Mr. Wortbing- 
ton, K.H., or Knight of the Hammer. If you all like to join 
me, come at once; I have room for you all, and I conse- 
quently inclose a draft for .£250, which I shall expect you 
to repay me out here, for it is part of Jane's fortune, re- 
member." 

There was much more in the letter, which testified to the 
old gentleman's indomitable pluck, and his son had no 
reason to doubt that he would be successful. A very slight 
amount of persuasion induced Jane to agree to accompany 
him to the promised laud, and soon all their arrangements 
were made. Colonel Dacre again responded liberally to 
Susan's appeal, and, provided with all requisite comforts for 
the voyage, they started without regret from a country where 
unhappiness and misery had hitherto been their only portion. 

In the meanwhile Susan had grown up into a very hand- 
some girl. She was the darling of her new guardian, and 
could manage him just as she pleased. A life of comfort 
and luxury had a powerful effect in increasing her charms, 
and she was beginning to become the acknowledged belle of 
the country ball-room. Offers innumerable were made her 
by the young hawbucks, and even some superlative swells 
from the adjacent garrison town dismounted from the 
pedestal of their grandeur, and would have condescended to 
marry her. But Susan thought that her sister's experience 
of matrimony was quite sufficient for the family, and she 
kept all her suitors at defiance by saying that she could not 
leave Mrs. Dacre yet; and as the Colonel was only too 
glad to keep her by him, whenever he offered to advocate 
the claims of any young gentleman, he did so with such 
evident ill grace that Susan had no difficulty in declining 
their obliging offers. In vain did her young friends 
jokingly call her the " old maid," though in their hearts 
they felt very glad that she did not accept some of the 
offers made her, as she thus left the field open for them, 
and she was quite the darling of the whole country side. 

But the Colonel would not have it thought for a moment 
■$iat he was at all to blame for her determination, and he 
allowed her all the rational enjoyments her heart could desire. 
Even when he stood for the county, and was returned to 



96 WILD OATS. 

Parliament by a triumphant majority, be took her with him 
to town, and Clodshire had to lament long the loss of its 
fairest representative. Balls and parties claimed her as 
their own. She was presented at court, and excited a sensa- 
tion. Her picture appeared on the walls of the academy, 
and in the now defunct pages of the " Book of Beauty," 
while the train of her adorers was wonderfully increased. 

I do not think, for my own part, that she will adhere to her 
determination of dying an old maid ; for though young 
ladies of one- and- twenty, who have nothing to wish for, are 
quite right in not recklessly exchanging the sure comforts 
of home for a share in the matrimonial lottery, which only 
too often proves a blank, still their determination is very 
frequently put to the right-about by some dashing young 
fellow of thirty, who has as many thousands as years, and a 
good heart worth more than all the rest ; so I reserve Miss 
Susan Dashwood's future history for another chapter, and, 
until the exigencies of my story require her presence, she 
may be allowed to pursue the even tenor of her way as the 
fairest object in creation — a pure-hearted and lovely English 
girl. 

I am sadly afraid that this episodical account of the 
Dashwood girls is a grave offence against the novelistic 
unuies, aud that I have run away from my hero in a clan- 
destine manner. But he, poor fellow, is now standing on 
the threshold of life, full of hope and joy, secure of the 
future, aud careless as every young man of twenty should 
be whose liver has not yet been affected. Seeing him so 
fully enjoying life and its pleasures — for this world is a very 
jolly place, let cynics rail against it as they will — I really 
had not the heart to bang the door rudely in his face, and 
bid him go work for that livelihood which he had hitherto 
thought would come to him, like fortune, in his sleep. 



CHAPTER XII. 

GURKEJUIOF. 



If a committee were appointed to examine into the present 
state of our diplomatic service, I do not think it would have 
occasion to go further than Gurkenbof in its investigations, 
in order to discover that our expensive establishments at 



GUUKENHOF. 07 

the small German courts might very safely be abolished 
without compromising the honour of the country or the 
tranquillity of the universe. 

Pumpernickel, of which grand duchy all the world ought 
to know Giirkenhof is the capital, could not by the wildest 
potentialities ever become of the slightest importance in re- 
gulating the European balance. It was a narrow enclave 
thrust in between two powerful neighbours, whose jealousy 
of each other had hitherto prevented its erasure from the 
map of the continent. Its army in war time amounted to 
849f men, the fraction representing a drummer; while in 
peace it consisted of 145 officers, from a general downwards, 
and 87 men to perform the requisite guard mountings. 
And yet it is wonderful what an amount of intrigue had 
been expended to bring Pumpernickel over to the side of 
the various contending powers; and it might almost be 
imagined that the weight of its tremendous glaive cast into 
the balance would "crumple up" the other side at once 
without any appeal to arms. 

Somewhere in those benighted ages, when England 
thought that it conduced to her dignity to ally her royal house 
to German princes; while Hanover was still a thorn in our 
side, and even before that glorious old scoundrel, Frederick 
the Great, or the "Protestant hero," as Mr. Barry Lyndon 
tells us our ancestors loved to call him, had cast his longing 
eyes on the Silesian dominions of his Catholic neighbour — a 
Raugrave of Pumpernickel had married a niece of our 
mighty monarch. A large annuity was required to gild the 
somewhat bitter morsel ; but that the nation (which, by the 
way, did not trouble itself much about such matters then, 
pour cause), did not consider at all derogatory. I believe it 
was Walpole who moved the bill in the lower house, and 
one member, who referred it to a select committee, after 
a very private and satisfactory conversation with his minis- 
terial opponent, saw the error of his ways and retracted. 
This money was very useful to the Raugrave, for he was 
gifted with a taste for building, and Giirkenhof soon be- 
came a sort of German Versailles. He had a palace to re- 
side in weekly, and mistresses to match, and was in every 
respect a father to his people. 

In imitation of his neighbour in Baden, who had recently 
built Carlsruhe in the shape of a wheel, the Raugrave de- 
cided that his resident should assume the appearance of a 
sedan chair, the body being depicted by the huge palace in 
the centre, and the staves representing the streets leading 

H. 



98 WILD OATS. 

tip to it, while the people groaning beneath the weight o 
taxation served admirably for the porters who carried th 
unwieldy burden. I must do the Raugrave the credil 
however, to add that, although he behaved as badly as onl 
a king ean do to his wife, he built her an English palace 
where she was quite at liberty to reside, and regret that sh 
had ever quitted her home to share the pinchbeck splendou 
of a German principality. 

Through this marriage a sort of traditional alliance witl 
England was established. When we wanted troops th> 
Baugraves were only too glad to supply regiments for i 
consideration, and we were on very friendly relations witl 
the Pumpernickelers, much to the gratification of ou 
Anglo-German ruler. Of course the French were not dis 
posed to allow this to go on ; so they soon augmented thei] 
embassy, put a duke at the head of it, and determined t( 
cut the English out. A glorious crop of intrigues thet 
sprang up ; the English were lavish with money, th* 
French with promises; and the Raugrave, wise in his gene 
ration, had only to indicate his intention to change his 
policy in order to procure a subsidy. 

Whatever our relations with France might be, whethei 
at peace or war, the treaty was tacitly understood not to ex 
tend to Gitrkenhof : there the hostilities never ceased, bul 
squabbling reigned triumphant. So matters had gone or 
for more than a century ; and when the common sense 
peculiar to England by slow degrees drove into our minis 
ters the absurdity of spending such immense sums on sucli 
a wretched subject, they only altered the system so far as tc 
lower the embassy one or two degrees, and appointed Sii 
Amyas Dashwood our envoy, with a very satisfactory in 
come of £2000 per annum. 

On the morning when the interests of my narrative com- 
pelled me to pay a flying visit to the residenz, Sir Amyas 
was going through the same routine to which he had been 
accustomed for the last twenty years. He was seated in a 
splendid room of the English palace, which had been given 
up for our embassy when the annuity had terminated, 
sipping a cup of chocolate, and turning over the various re- 
ports and letters which were intended to be seen only by 
himself. 

Sir Amyas, it was evident at the first glance, must have 
been a very handsome man in his youth, and now that he 
had fallen into the sere and yellow leaf he did not destroy 
the favourable impression he produced by any affectation 



GURKENHOF. 99 

of old boy dandyism. He was tall and rather thin, with a 
handsome Grecian profile, and that clear, cold blue eye 
which betrays a pitiless determination and unbending will. 
I believe he was the last Englishman who wore jabots and 
ruffles, which were always spotlessly white. Next to him- 
self the most important personage in Giirkenbof was his 
laundress. He was proverbial for never having broken his 
word to a man, and never keeping it with a woman. In 
short, I do not know how better to describe him than as a 
perfect imitation of the Chesterfield of " Letters " celebrity, 
minus the falsehood. His heart was thoroughly eaten up 
with pride, self-conceit, and wickedness; while he was popu- 
larly regarded as one of the best specimens of the old school, 
when " manners, not men," was the prevailing theory. 

The envoy was dressed in a loose mulberry velvet dressing- 
gown, and lay back in the cosiest of arm-chairs. Within easy 
reach was a set of bookshelves on wheels, containing all the 
lighter literature which flatters the head while ulcerating 
the heart. The walls of this his private apartment were 
hung with a choice gallery of Venuses, the value of which 
removed all idea of their impropriety ; and a quantity of 
china peculiarly ugly, and therefore extremely expensive, 
encumbered every vacant spot. But the most interesting 
corner of the room to me, when I was admitted to the 
envoy's august presence, was always a rack of meerschaum- 
pipes, hanging in wash-leather bags to protect them from 
the atmosphere, with their jewelled cherry stems artistically 
arranged in the corner. In women and in pipes Sir Amyas 
was equally profound ; and I think that he would sooner 
have forgiven a flaw in the first than in the last. 

The little table that stood in front of Sir Amyas was at 
this moment covered with an extraordinary quantity of 
missives, from which he proceeded to select with a practised 
eye those which deserved his attention. A quantity in 
female handwriting he threw aside with a negligent pshaw, 
to become gravely interested in a report from his confiden- 
tial spy at court. The perusal of this seemed to amtise him 
greatly. 

" So," he muttered to himself, " the Grand Duke fancies 
he will become my rival with the fair Amalie ; she supped 
with him last night on oysters and champagne tete-d-tete. 
Well, I'm sure he's heartily welcome to her; she was 
shockingly extravagant, and talked abominable French. 
And they made merry, did they, about Sir Dashwood? 



100 WILD OATS. 

Very good ; I must take my measures to punish her for 
that." 

And, as he walked across the room to touch a handbell, 
you could notice that he was slightly lame ; but the delect 
was not at all disfiguring. 

" Fritz," he then said to the valet who entered, " send for 
the Baron von Strudelwitz — say I wish to see him at 
ouce." 

" Your Excellency, Fraiilein Amalie has just driven up, 
and wishes to speak to you for a moment." 

" Let her come up, then ; and when she is gone you can 
go for the Baron." 

The Fraiilein was the principal singer at the opera, and 
had gained considerable influence over SirAmyas, for awhile 
at least ; but, as he had hinted, he was now growing tired of 
her. As, too, she had thought proper to laugh at him, he 
was terribly offended ; but not a glance betrayed his an- 
noyance when she came in. On the contrary, he was most 
affectionate, laughed heartily at her stories of the coulisses, 
and euded by giving her a rouleau of louis d'or, which she 
wanted for her new dresses in the opera of Don Giovanni, 
which had just been commanded by the court for the next 
week. 

" By the way," Sir Amyas said negligently, "the little 
Durlacher is to play Zerlina, is she not?" 

" Ah bah ! what does she know about singing ? That for 
the Durlacher !" giving her fingers an indescribable fillip. 
" She '11 make a fiasco, I can promise you ; tha Baron will see 
to that." 

" Well, you are quite right, Amalie, not to give her a 
chance, for I noticed the Abend Blatt says your voice is 
getting worn, and a new prima donna is required." 

"That poor Hegwitz ! he thought he could gain my 
heart by puffing me; and, now that he has found out his 
mistake, he threatens to demolish me. Aha! I should 
like to see a new singer succeed here ; I 'd tear her eyes 
out!" 

And with these words the amiable young lady quitted the 
room, sending some flying kisses from the tips of her fingers 
to the envoy, who laughed heartily at her threat. The 
Baron soon made his appearance, and Sir Amyas, after 
paying him some elaborate compliments about the way in 
which he conducted the theatre, added : — 

" I take an interest in that little Durlacher who is going 



GURKENHOF. 101 

to give a gnstrolle in Zerlina. Poor little thing ! sbe 
seems rather bashful, and she must be encouraged." 

" Certainly, your Excellency ; I quite agree with you, and 
I will take care that the theatre is filled with discreet 
claqueurs, who shall applaud her." 

" And, Monsieur le Baron, if I might suggest, there would 
be no harm in giving the director of the orchestra a hint. 
If he were to play fortissimo when Fraiilein Amfllie is 
singing, and so drown her roulades, I think it would not do 
her any harm. The young person is growing negligent, 
and the lesson may be of service to her. Of course, I speak 
thus because the interests of your theatre may be eventually 
at stake; and if you will have the kinduess to forward this 
bracelet to the Durlacher, not mentioning from whom it 
comes, but requesting she will wear it on the evening of her 
debut, I shall l'eel extremely obliged. A glass of Caracoa? 
No; too early. Good-bye, then, my dear Baron, aw revoir!" 

When the envoy was left alone he grinned most diaboli- 
cally, and repeated to himself, " Come, I think Amalie will 
be pretty well punished for her impertinence. She wanted 
that bracelet some time back, and I know her devilish 
jealousy so well that when she sees it on the Durlacher's 
arm she will not be able to sing a note for malice. The 
Durlacher will gain an immense amount of applause ; the 
Grand Duke will be pleased with her — and then he shall 
have an opportunity to rival me again. But now for my 
letters; I am anxious for that boy to come, or the oppor- 
tunity will be lost. But here's a letter from Harlingsby, 
dated Baden. I wonder what scandal he has picked up. 
Aha! things look serious. That worthy nephew of mine 
has been fighting a duel with the Marquis of Lancing 
about some woman whom he's supposed to be in love 
with. Well, I hope it's nothing serious. But what's 
this? A daughter of Madame Leblanc, a gambling-house 
keeper in Paris. That woman was born to be my curse. 
It must be the girl whom my brother took into his family. 
What confounded folly ! I was afraid of something of 
this sort; but it must be stopped at once. Ah! here's 
a letter from the boy to say he is coming next week. 
Well, we shall see which is the stronger, his love or my 
will." 

And, grown perfectly calm again, as if it were impossible 
/or his designs to be thwarted by any earthly agency, Sir 
Amyas rang for his valet, and went through the necessary 
operations of the toilet. He then entered his carriage 



102 WTlD OATS. 

and drove to the palace, where he was the life of the 
family party for nearly an hour by telling very funny 
anecdotes, which he had picked up during his morning's 
reading, and which made the young Princess Bertha still 
more in love with the dear old gentleman, to whom she 
chattered in her pretty broken English. The Grand Duke 
was always glad for Sir Amyas to join them, and give 
his daughter an English lesson ; for, as a provident papa, 
he looked benignantly on the increasing royal family in 
England, and had made up his mind to enter his little 
daughter for the matrimonial stakes. 

From the palace Sir Amyas proceeded to call on the 
Countess von Tulpenhain, the Grand Duke's left-handed 
wife, who had originally been a milliner at Paris, and was 
now the second power in the duchy, without whose advice 
the reigning prince never could make his mind to any 
course of action. She was a staunch ally of the English party 
at court, and, indeed, eDJoyed a very comfortable pension 
out of that secret service money annually voted by Par- 
liament in the teeth of Mr. W Williams's repeated protesta- 
tions. With her Sir Amyas chatted delightfully about 
various court matters; how the Russian ambassador had 
been closeted with her husband for two hours, and that she 
meant to find out what the conversation had been about; 
next a discreet allusion to the little supper party of the 
previous evening served to arouse the Countess's jealousy, 
and make her a stanch ally of the Durlacher; and then, 
feeling that he had done a good morning's work, Sir 
Amyas drove placidly back to his hotel, and prepared for 
the grand dinner party he was going to give that even- 
ing in honour of one of our princesses' birthdays. 

But it is unnecessary to dwell any longer on the routine 
of Sir Amyas Dashwood's daily life ; the specimen I have 
given will be sufficient to enlighten my countrymen as 
to the way in which their interests are served, and their 
money spent, at the smaller German courts. In fact, I do 
not see what else Sir Dasbwood could do to fill up his time. 
The alliance with Pumpernickel was no longer a vital consi- 
deration, for Hanover had fortunately been lost to our crown, 
and the interests of that valuable country confided to the 
safe keeping of an independent and dearly-beloved monarch. 
But, so long as family 'ties are all-powerful, and the sons of 
our aristocracy have to be supported at the public expense, 
so long, 1 presume, the present system must he maintained ; 
and, if this be the case, I do not see why Sir Amyas was 



OURKENHOP 103 

one bit worse or better than any other individual who 
might be selected. He was magnificent in his habits, and 
a thorough gentleman as far as externals were concerned ; 
he kept up the dignity of England at the proper standard 
by capital dinner parties ; and the young attaches were in- 
dispensable at all balls, and to figure to a large extent in 
the tradesmen's books. After a due course of flirting and 
dancing their diplomatic education would be completed, and 
they would be prepared to fill any vacancies which occurred 
at larger embassies. 

But, to tell the truth, there was nothing for them to 
learn. A Mr. Markham, a fellow of no birth, whom they 
treated with consummate politeness, and never associated 
with, really did all the work of the chancellerie ; and any 
unfortunate Englishman who was compelled to apply to 
his embassy for assistance in any dilemma was only too 
glad, after one conference with these noble young men, to 
fall back upon the useful clerk, from whom he received 
advice without that superciliousness which appears to be 
the be all and end all of an English attache's existence. 

It will be seen from these slight hints, I trust, that our 
embassy at Giiikenhof, if inferior in status to the otbera 
which stud continental capitals, was not one whit behind- 
hand in the diplomatic amenities; and, having proved so 
much, I may only add that Sir Amyas amused himself for 
the rest of the evening in a manner befitting his high birth 
and exalted position, and, as dean of the corps, gave his 
colleagues a remarkably good dinner, which I hope agreed 
with them. So, with a wish that good digestion may 
attend ou appetite, and health on both, I will leave them 
to the enjoyment of their rissoles and their delicious trout, 
while the necessary changes of scenery are being pre- 
pared for the grand tableau between my hero and Sir 
Amyas. 



104 WILD OATS. 



CHAPTEK XIII. 

AN EXPLOSION. 

Poor Charley ! He could hardly have arrived at Giirkenhof 
at a more unpropitious moment, for Sir Amyas was suffer- 
ing from a severe attack of gout, which, though not eon- 
fining him to the house, rendered him rather more disagree- 
able than usual. Besides, as he was obliged to confess that 
he had brought it on himself by an extra quantity of wine 
on the evening of his dinner party, he was now vexed with 
the whole party " of guzzling mountebanks," as he termed 
them in the innermost recesses of his mind, and was very 
pleased at any opportunity for the safe discharge of his 
spleen. 

But nothing of this was perceptible in his manner of 
receiving Charley, which was courteous in the extreme, and, 
if anything, almost too polite for so near a relative ; at least 
it seemed so to Charley, who had hitherto only been accus- 
tomed to the unrefined greetings of loving sisters, and, as 
a consequence, could not appreciate the exquisite tact by 
which Sir Amyas wished to convey that, although nature 
had constituted him arelative.it depended on his behaviour 
whether that accidental connection would be recognised. 
Sir Amyas was constitutionally averse to any demonstrative 
friendship ; for his rule of faith was that friends were only 
sent into the world to ask you to do them favours. Hence it 
was very rarely that he went so far as to give more than two 
of his fingers to any one, and, if he did go beyond this, so 
slight was the grasp, and so clammy the touch, that the 
recipient of this favour was only too glad to revert to the old 
system. 

I think, therefore, that the old-fashioned kiss on the right 
cheek, after the manner of royalty, with which Sir Amyas 
greeted his kinsman, was a considerable departure from his 
usual rule, and was probably occasioned by some better 
thought tapping at what he flatteringly termed his heart for 
admission. And, in truth, few persons could look on my 
hero without feeling attracted spontaneously toward him. 
And this reminds me that I have hitherto neglected to intro- 
duce him to my reader; but this was not an oversight on 



AN EXPLOSrON. 105 

my part, for had I described him feature by feature when 
we first formed his acquaintance, the likeness would have 
borne no resemblance to the young man as be now stood 
modestly, and yet with full consciousness of his manhood, 
before his uncle. But with a wish to gratify my lady readers, 
and afford them an opportunity of comparison between my 
hero and their own ideal of the manly type of beauty, I will 
here describe him. 

In his face, then, he was a true Dashwood, with the same 
Grecian nose and exquisitely chiseled mouth. His eye, 
too, was blue, but of a darker hue than bis uncle's, and 
beaming with good-nature, while the somewhat too classical 
.expression was redeemed by two pouting lips, rich with the 
ruddy hue of health, and slightly parted to display an admi- 
rable row of teeth. The dimples in his cheeks proved that 
he was prone to laughter, and there was a certain look about 
him which revealed that he was very apt to regard the ludi- 
crous side of human nature. His hair was of a magnificent 
chestnut colour, and had a natural wave in it which is pecu- 
liar to negroes and the latest feminine fashions. Had it 
not been for the severe coldness of the outline, his lips 
might have suggested a sensuous predisposition, but as it 
was they gave a charming expression to his face, while his 
slight moustache took off that idea of effeminacy which 
we are apt to associate with the purely Greek type, such as 
may be studied to perfection in the back slums of Galata. 

Such was our hero, then, as he stood on the threshold of 
life, beaming with hope and expectation ; and I am not sur- 
prised that Sir Amyas thawed visibly on first seeing him. 
He had feared that the boy might be too like his father, and 
was prepared to hate him in consequence; but his features 
were so relieved by the expression of humour I have alluded 
to, that Sir Amy as was unable to detect the resemblance, and 
half formed a villanous hope that he was not his father's 
son. But in this he was fated to find himself undeluded. 

A splendid suite of apartments had been held in readiness 
for my hero, quite distinct from the rest of the household, 
and he could take his ease in them as if at an inn. Sir 
Amyas, after introducing him to the attaches, informed him 
that he was at liberty to amuse himself as he pleased until 
eigh t o'clock, when he intended to take him to court, and bowed 
him most politely out. As soon as he was left alone Sir 
Amyas, however, hastened to his writing-tabl*. and penned 
a charming note, which he addressed to the Honourable 
Mrs. Delancy en ville, and sent off by Fritz to its destination . 



106 



WILD OATS. 



My hero certain!) felt that some inches were added to his 
Stature by the polite attentions paid him on all sides in his 
uncle's palace, and he began to think there were duller 
places in the world than Giirkenhof. Mr. Pelham, the paid 
attache, kindly offered to give up his arduous duties for the 
afternoon on his behalf, and with him he explored the pene- 
tralia of a German residenz. While wandering in the 
palace gardens the attache bowed to two ladies, evidently 
English, the younger of whom was eminently lovely, and 
so Charles' eye? were fixed upon her a second or two longer 
than good breeding might permit, at which the young lady 
blushed very prettily and passed on. The next minute he 
blamed himself for such false fealty to his Helen, and mag- 
nanimously decided not to ask his companion who the 
ladies were, and the other gentleman not volunteering the 
information, the meeting soon slipped from his remem- 
brance. 

In the evening, when Sir Amyas had received special 
permission from the Grand Duke to present his young 
kinsman en famille, Charles, on going up the grand stairs, 
was rather amused at seeing all the magnificent men-servants 
quarrelling in an anteroom over golden dishes, and snatch- 
ing the contents with greedy fist. He, however, said nothing, 
as his uncle passed on without paying the slightest attention, 
and Charles soon found himself in close contact with royalty 
for the first time in his life. 

The Grand Duke, a fine-looking man, though evidently 
somewhat troubled with a tight uniform, which gave a 
mottled look to his complexion, received ray hero most 
graciously, and addressed several questions to him in 
French, which the poor lad, so embarrassed as he was, 
could scarcely reply to. However, that was of very slight 
consequence ; the duke went through the usual routine, 
then bowed, and the audience was over. Charles by this 
time had found courage to look round him, and notice that 
the rooms had been very handsomely furnished at one time, 
but now bore evident traces of decay ; the festooned curtains 
had broken down in several places, and the whole place had 
a very casinoish look about it, minus the glitter of fresh- 
ness. On his road home he ventured to ask Sir Amyas 
the meaning of the curious scene he had noticed in the 
anteroom, and learned that the grand ducal servants were 
all on board wages, and the crumbs that fell from their 
master's table were their own perquisites. As, however, 
they were all a set of robbers, they preferred to take timo 



AN EXPLOSION. 107 

by the forelock, and victual themselves before the dishes re- 
turned to the royal kitchen. On their return to the palace 
Sir Amyas dismissed Charles graciously for the night, the 
remainder of which he spent with the attaches — how it is 
needless for me to particularise. 

Two days passed over without Sir Amyas volunteering a 
word about the important family matters for which he had 
summoned Charles to Gurkenhof; but on the third the 
young man was requested to join his uncle. He found him 
ready dressed to go out, and was requested to accompany 
him on a visit he was about to pay. Charles, of course, 
made no objection, but followed, and soon found himself in 
the presence of the two ladies whom he had met in the 
park, the younger of whom testified by a vivid blush that 
she, at least, had not forgotten their previous meeting. 
Mrs. Delancy received him with visible empressemeut, and 
there was an evident disposition on all sides to make him. 
feel at home. 

Mrs. Delancy was a widow with one daughter, whom she 
had tried to marry to some rich nobleman in England; but 
there were some curious stories afloat about the mamma, and 
our young men fought shy. Finding her expenses rapidly 
increasing, and grave inroads made on her fortune by a 
lengthened residence in London (for, although it be true 
that " beauty when unadorned is adorned the most," mil- 
liners' bills are absolutely necessary for the loveliest daughter 
of Eve), the widow had next tried her hand on the con- 
tinent. Eor a long while she had fished for heirs apparent 
to duchies, or princes reigning in their own right, although 
perfectly aware of the impossibilities of effecting anything 
beyond a morganatic marriage; but to this neither mother 
nor daughter objected. But, try all they knew, they could 
not succeed, and they had lowered their pretensions. It was 
very hard on the young lady certainly, for she was the 
perfection of loveliness, and had thirty thousand pounds in 
the bargain; but so it was. At last they happened to come 
to Giirkeuhof, and laid siege at once and mutually to the 
heart of Sir Amyas, whose position was not to be despised ; 
for, if he were not the rose, he had lived beside it so long 
that he had gained a large portion of the fragrance. But 
Sir Amyas was not a marrying man, and he effected a com- 
promise by proposing his nephew, who, in the due course of 
nature, would succeed to the title and estates — if there were 
any. To this proposition the lady, negotiating on behalf of 
ber daughter, consented ; and when Charles arrived at Giir- 



108 WILD OATS. 

kenhof, they regarded him in the light of Flora's future 
husband. 

Not a word of this was breathed to Charley, for it was 
lesired that it should be a marriage of inclination ; so time 
nd upportunity were to be afforded him for falling into 
ove. When a young and exquisitely beautiful girl has 
nade up her mind thrt a certain young man shall be her 
husband, I am afraid that he has but a poor chance of 
resisting the snare ; and, had not Charley's heart been 
triply fenced by his affection for Helen, whom be loved the 
more intensely now, because there was an opposition t) 
their happiness, I fancy Miss Flora would have had tin 
game in her own hands. I must confess, however, that my 
hero was most culpable for paying such exclusive attentions 
to the young lady, and thus spoiling the chance of the at- 
taches. He was her daily companion in her drives and walks, 
was constantly by her side in the ball-room, and, in short, 
made a fool both of her and himself. It is true that all 
this time he salved his conscience by not breathing a word 
of love ; but then — bang it all ! — he looked it the more, and 
his eyes were so expressive that they were possibly more 
effective than his tongue would have been. At any rate, 
Flora lived on in the happy delusion that Charles loved her, 
and was innocently coutriviug a multitude of schemes for 
allowing him to declare his passion. 

Now I feel that this was all very wrong. Charley, as a 
moral young man, ought to have resisted the delicious 
temptation. He should have remembered how faithful 
Helen had been to him before recent events had forced her 
to thrust him from her side, and, at any rate, ought to have 
tried to remove the delusion which was causing her such 
intense agony of mind. I will allow all this, but unfortu- 
nately, as the French tell us, " the absent are always in the 
wrong," and Charley would have been a block of ice had 
he remained impassive to the bewitching lures of the syren 
by his side. In fact, I am sorry to say he never thought 
on the matter at all, or very rarely ; and, when he did so, 
he laughed it off, with a very uncomfortable feeling, though, 
and still kept by Flora's side. 

We may be sure that Sir Amyas and Mrs. Delancy held 
frequent consultations as to the progress of this love passage ; 
and the lady, with feminine impetuosity, would have precipi- 
tated matters, but Sir Amyas was too cautious. He had 
not gone through life without bowing down before the in- 
fluence of a first love, and though he was delighted to find 



AN EXPLOSION. 109 

that Charley seemed quite oblivious of that Leblanc girl, still 
he would not by any hurried alarm startle his young heart 
from its security. Sir Amyas waited for some extraneous 
impulse to lead him into an avowal of his passion, and 
when the time grew too long he recommended that Flora 
should pay a little more attention than usual to her fervent 
admirer, the Baron von Strudelwitz. Perhaps that might 
render his nephew jealous, and if so the game would be 
won. 

Strange to say, this did not succeed as the conspirators 
anticipated. Charley allowed the Baron to pay what atten- 
tions he pleased to Flora, and only revenged himself by 
joking the girl good-humouredly about her new admirer ; 
and, though she was at times ready to cry at his stoicism, she 
was forced to smile in spite of herself at the quaint remarks 
Charley made about the unfortunate Baron. Another change 
of tactics was evidently required, and Flora determined this 
time that she would take the game into her own hands. 

But how she was to attack this extraordinary lover was 
the difficulty. He was nothing like the usual run of young 
men, who, according to her experience, were too ready to 
avow their love for her, while the man she really was fond 
of would turn off every serious conversation by a joke. It 
was too childish, and she wished for a moment or so that 
she had never seen him ; but the thought of Charley's 
honest, handsome face recurred to her, and her pettishness 
was dissolved at once like morning dew by the sun. But 
while she was cogitating this all-engrossing subject, and 
wondering how she was to bring Charley to an avowal of 
his sentiments, the Gordian knot was solved in a manner 
most "unexpected by her. 

(Zldrles had returned from the opera, where he had been 
applauding the Durlacher, who excited a furore, owing to 
Sir Amyas' skilful combinations, to a supper with the young 
attaches. He had been very merry, and had good-humouredly 
borne a good deal of joking about " Flo" without wincing, 
which I think proves he must have been tolerably heart- 
whole. On entering his own apartments, however, he found 
a letter on his table which caused an utter revulsion. It 
was wonderfully concise; it merely said, "Brother, come — 
I waut you ; " but the effect the well-known handwriting 
produced was stHrtling. He felt that some great event was 
impending over his beloved Helen, and he bitterly regretted 
the time he had so recklessly wasted at Flora's side, and th< 
comparison he mentally instituted between her and Helen 



110 WILD OATS, 

was far from flattering to the former. With his usual impe- 
tuosity, however, he did not wait to reflect on his best course 
of conduct, but rushed out into the corridor, and inquired 
whether his uncle had yet retired to bed. 

Fritz looked with some surprise at the young man, who 
bounded upon him with such evident traces of evil intelli- 
gence in his face ; but in that house it was not the fashion to 
feel astonished at anything, so he merely said he would see 
if his Excellency were yet up, and in a few minutes Charles 
was standing in the presence of his uncle. 

That worthy gentleman was seated in the fauteuil, smoking 
a long meerschaum, and deeply interested in Petronius Ar- 
biter. Charles hurriedly apologised for his intrusion, and 
then said that important business required his immediate 
presence in Paris. 

"And pray may I ask its nature?" said his uncle, slightly 
raising his eyebrows. " It must be important, indeed, that 
you should disturb me at this hour in the morning. Has 
the fair Flora requested you to procure her the last new 
novel instanter, while you, like a preux chevalier, would be 
only too ready to fly to the end of the world to pluck a hair 
from the beard of the great Cham ?" 

This very simple query considerably bothered Charles, 
for he could not exactly enter into particulars without ex- 
plaining his love for Helen, and he felt that his uncle 
would not be particularly gratified at hearing of that. 

" Well, young gentleman, I am waiting patiently. It 

cannot be -But, pshaw, it is impossible you could be such 

a fool as to throw away a brilliant parti like Miss Delancy 
for an outcast from society like Madame Leblanc's daughter 
— that common scandal of Baden." 

If Sir Amyas desired to find out the truth he could not 
have hit on a better plan. Charles started as if shot, but 
Sir Amyas calmly motioned him to silence, and then 
continued: — 

" Mr. Charles Dashwood, I never quarrel. In the first 
place it disharmonises digestion, and, secondly, it is but a 
fool's argument at the best. You will, perhaps, bear in 
mind that your father, for marrying a portionless girl, was 
almost disinherited by my father ; and what became of 
him ? He died a beggar, after wasting his life in an obscure 
country village. I took your part, and was — indeed, am 
still — ready to promote your interests ; but you must obey 
me. I have chosen a wife for you against whom you can 
raise no objection, and her fortune, added to what I should 



AN EXPLOSION. 11] 

leave yon, would enable the last of the Dashwoods to repre- 
sent his family worthily. I only want a plain answer to 
one question. Will you marry Miss Delancy ? " 

" But, Sir Amyas " 

" As I said before, I am not disposed to enter into any 
discussion. I am quite well aware of your past folly with 
reference to this Miss Mowbray, and was prepared to over- 
look it. I regret that you should force me to revert to it 
now. There is a very simple choice left you : marry Miss 
Delancy and be my heir, or run after your highly virtuous 
Miss Mowbray and be a beggar. I do not require an answer 
now. You can sleep on it, and I have no doubt about your 
decision." 

" If I thought over the matter for months my resolve 
would be as fixed then as it is now. I love Helen Mowbray, 
and if you but knew her you would be sorry for the unjust 
opinion you have formed of her. Oh, uncle ! be merciful 
to me. Do not ask me to give up the only mainstay I have. 
I have been reckless, careless, improvident, if you will ; but 
the remembrance of my Helen has kept me in the right 
path. I cannot marry Miss Delancy." 

" Then there is no need for further conversation. Mr. 
Charles Dashwood, I have the honour to wish you good 
night, and you have my perfect permission to go to the 
devil your own road." 

Charles saw too clearly that no humiliation on his part 
would turn his inflexible uncle, and, indeed, his feelings at 
the time were so outraged that he would not have yielded 
one jot, although his fortune was at stake. He therefore 
quitted the room, but had scarcely reached the corridor 
when his uncle's voice recalled him. 

" Would you have the great kindness to tell Fritz to bring 
me the colchicum? and will you shut the door after you? 
There is a cold draught from that passage. Thank you ; 
good night!" 

And so uncle and nephew parted, never to meet again in 
this world; and Charley, with a consciousness that be had 
acted for the best, although he had to pay a bitter price for 
it, went and packed up his things, fully determined not to 
remain for an hour longer than necessary under the roof of 
a relative who could bid him go to the devil and good night 
in the same exquisitely modulated voice. 

If he had any lurking hope that his uncle would recall 
him and rescind his determination, that was quite dissipated 
when Fritz tapped at the door the next morning to ask at 



112 

what hour he would wish the carriage to be in readiness to 
take him to the station. The sooner the better for him he 
thought; and thus, while Miss Delancy was gently pouting 
and wondering why Charles had not yet called, according 
to his promise, to ride with her in the park, that gentleman 
was hurrying with the iron lungs of steam to the assistance 
of his imperilled Helen. 

The blow Flora's vanity experienced by this abrupt se- 
cession was very acute — I do not say her heart, for that 
had grown to the toughness of leather during her matri- 
monial campaign ; and, after rather an angry scene with Sir 
Amyas, which that gentleman endured with the calmness of 
a stoic, the ladies also prepared for their departure, and Giir- 
kenhof knew them no more. 



CHAPTER XIV 

MICHING MALLECHO. 



In a narrow court leading out of a back street in dangerous 
proximity to Leicester Square, an enterprising Levantine, 
of the mellifluous name of Nicolo Zampa, had established, 
at the period to which my story relates, a home for all 
nations. The lodging was somewhat scanty, it is true, and 
those benighted foreigners, who were seduced by Nicolo 
into paying him a weekly stipend for board, began soon to 
grow tired of boiled vetches and mastic, which he dispeused 
liberally at the expense of his guests' digestion. As a com- 
pensation for this, however, Nicolo always had a magnificent 
supply of dominoes, which were rattling on the slate tables 
from morning till night, and over which the hirsute foreigners 
gesticulated and swore, as if their very existence depended 
on the bone selected to be played. 

The ingenious Mr. Doyle need not have 'gone further 
than this hostelry to collect those inimitable physiognomies 
which so delight us in bis travelling Englishmen, for, of a 
verity, every type of foreigner was represented in this cafe. 
So surely as an amiable democrat, who had been forced to 
leave his country for his country's good, visited our hospi- 
table shores, so surely did some irresistible attraction draw 
him to Zampa's. It is true that Nicolo was in some 
measure the cause of this, for he seemed to spend the greater 



MICHING MALLECHO. 113 

portioD of his existence in the vicinity of Tower Wharf, 
marking down any bearded individual, and thrusting into 
his hand a greasy card ; hut, on the other hand, Zampa's 
establishment was sufficiently notorious on the continent, as 
the focus of intrigues and the refuge for destitute republicans. 

At a hurried glance the guests assembled at Zampa's did 
not appear dangerous for the tranquillity of Europe ; they 
were mostly awfully seedy in their attire, and their faces 
defied recognition by a dense layer of dirt ; but they were 
in reality the more dangerous because of their apparent 
obscurity. In London that propaganda was instituted 
which bore such lamentable fruits in 1848, and the mass of 
pamphlets which swarmed from our presses proved that 
the republican party had money at its command, and was 
prepared to spend it recklessly for the furtherance of the 
cause. And, although these men appeared so poverty- 
stricken, and John Bull would have laughed heartily at the 
notion of their endangering the_ public welfare, bad that 
worthy gentleman been able to pierce the outer covering, he 
would have been horrified at the discovery he made thereby. 
That " the hood does not make the monk " is as true now a3 
in those ages when the Eoman church gave laws to nations, 
and the self-sacrificing sons of Loyola were among the most 
constant visitors to Zampa's, whence they watched the pro- 
gress of the republican press, and laughed iu their sleeve at 
the delusions which were thus propagated. Absolutism and 
democracy have much in common, more, perhaps, than the 
greatest Russophobist may imagine, for both strive to 
attain the same end, the subjugation of the world to self. 

The chamber of honour at Nicolo's had been recently 
engaged by a German, M. Herman Kurz, who had osten- 
sibly arrived in England to represent the interests of the 
eminent firm of Salzwedel and Co., manufacturers of stearine 
candles. He was quiet and reserved in bis manners, holding 
but slight intercourse with the guests, and was regarded as 
a credit to the establishment. In his lighter hours he 
liberally paid for large quantities of afnaf, which the re- 
publicans only too gladly drank, and, in return, was allowed 
to pursue the even tenor of his way without let or hin- 
derance. 

I am afraid, however, that M. Kurz was sadly negligent 
of the interests of his house, for he spent the greater portion 
of his time in wandering about the streets of London, and 
paid repeated visits to the Bank, whose exterior he examined 
with a very curious, though evidently practised glance. 

i 



114 WILD OATS. 

What the objects of his speculations might be I cannot say, 
but the result was evidently satisfactory, and he then 
mounted a Putney 'bus, walked across the bridge, and 
marched for two hours about Wimbledon common, ap- 
parently lost in admiration of the furze bushes as repre- 
sentatives of English vegetation. 

Such had been his mode of life for nearly a week ; but one 
afternoon it seemed that the furze was going to be neglected 
ou behalf of a stranger who was coming across the common 
in the other direction. The two gentlemen met, and en- 
tered into casual conversation about the weather, and abuse 
of England, which is the never-failing topic for foreigners. 
At length M. Kurz remarked, — 

" I have picked up here a strange token of silver. It seems 
to have been broken, and I cannot exactly make out what 
it is intended to represent." 

It was certainly a curious object, for it represented two 
F's placed back to back, and would have puzzled the most 
acute archseologian to decipher. The stranger, however, 
appeared to understand it thoroughly, for he remarked, — 

" I think this piece," producing it from his pocket, " is 
wanting." 

And, placing them together, they formed a cross of four 
F's, the mystic sign of the German Turn Vereine, and read- 
ing " Frisch, fromm, frey, froh ! " M. Kurz appeared perfectly 
satisfied with this, and then added in German the simple 
phrase, " When the swallows homeward fly." The stranger 
replied, " Vendetta;" and they were immediately the best of 
friends. 

"You, I presume," said M. Kurz, "are the agent of the 
affiliated societies, Lestignac." 

The stranger bowed, and added, " And you the accredited 
agent of the secret committee of the German Turn Verein 
Union. I presume yon have a letter for me." 

" No, I could not afford to run any risk in the present 
critical state of affairs. Secrecy is essential to our success ; 
but you are aware that I am initiated in all the secrets of 
the great society. As, too, the movement will depend 
entirely on your communication to me, I need not add that 
I am anxious to hear your report, and get home again, 
where my presence is anxiously expected." 

" My news," said the Frenchman, "is easily given. The 
government has played into our hands, and the faubourgs 
are ripe for revolt ; but France is not prepared for any 
revolution which only produces a dynastic change. So long 



MICHING MALLECHO. 115 

as a king remains on the throne we have no occasion to 
send Louis flying — he answers our purpose fully. France 
has already experienced the results of precipitation, and we 
are not prepared to take up arms unless the permanence of 
the social republic is secured. To do that, however, an 
impulse from without is wanted, and we look to the Ger- 
mans to produce that convulsion which will prevent foreign 
despots from banding together and ruining our hopes aa 
they have done before." 

" And Germany," the other replied, " is fully prepared 
for revolution, and to accept the consequences ; but we 
are not strong enough to cope with our tyrants single- 
handed. So soon as 30,000 brave sans-culottes are as- 
sembled on the frontier of the Rhine, the Schwarz, Roth, 
Gold, will be unfurled — but not before." 

"Then I am afraid, M. Kurz, that matters will have to 
remain in statu quo. Although we should be only too glad 
to punish the Prussians for old indignities, you must be well 
aware that France is not disposed to make fresh sacrifices 
for Germans, who have always behaved to her with in- 
gratitude. As the price of our interference we demand that 
the Germans should throw away the scabbard. The kings 
who now prey on the vitals of the nation must receive a 
warning example; then, but not till then, France will cross 
the frontier." 

" What you ask is impossible. It is true that in southern 
Germany great progress has been made. The soldiers have 
been taught that they are our brothers, and they will indubit- 
ably be ready to join us when the first blow has been 
struck; but we are not in a position to take the initiative. 
The Turn Vereine, of which I have the honour to be the 
representative, although 150,000 strong, are sadly divided 
among themselves, and the majority, while desirous of 
a change, are not prepared to overthrow the monarchical 
institutions which have existed among us so long. The 
extreme party is ready to follow the example of France 
blindly, and I have no doubt that, when the first step has 
been taken, the others will be induced to follow with ease ; 
but we require support from without, or we shall be crushed 
in turn, without power to resist." 

" As I said before, a dynastic change is not what we 
desire. The overthrow of the Bourbons would then only 
serve to bring back the Bonapartes, and they are no friends 
of popular institutions. The revolution we are preparing 
must be fundamental, and, consequently, must be supported 



116 WILD OATS. 

by the rest of Europe. In the hope that the young blood 
of Germany is ready to follow us in the logical conse- 
quences of sucb a convulsion, I have been chosen to confer 
with you. If the result of our interview does not guarantee 
fraternisation we shall not move further in the matter at 
present." 

" In the event, then, of southern Germany establishing 
a republic in conjunction with France, may we be prepared 
to expect the armed intervention of Trance against the 
tyrants ? " 

" That is entirely a question for after consideration ; and, 
besides, no assistance would probably be promised, unless 
France were guaranteed her old frontier. The Cis-Rhenane 
Prussian provinces are ready to join in the movement at 
once, and long for the moment when they may revert to 
France. Prussia will be unable to protect them if the anti- 
cipated events occur at home, and it is highly probable that 
we should be willing to extend our protection even beyond 
the Rhine, for the sake of securing those provinces." 

" Then southern Germany will be ready to go with 
you, and we must trust that the force of example will act 
beneficially on Prussia. With Austria, I believe, we shall 
have no difficulty." 

" Austria will have quite enough to engage her attention 
at home. The reports we have received from Italy and 
Hungary insure us success in that quarter. The clever 
scheme by which Metternich thought to check the nation- 
alities by dislocating the troops, and keeping down Hungary 
by means of Italians, and Italy by Bohemians, has been of 
extraordinary advantage to ns. The Italians have been so 
admirably worked upon that they will not fire a shot in 
defence of tyranny, and, if our arrangements in Lombardy 
turn out as we have every reason to anticipate, the Emperor 
of Austria will be besieged in his palace by his own troops." 

" In behalf of the Turn Vereine, then, I can promise that 
the experiment shall be tried in south Germany, but I warn 
you that its result will entirely depend on the amount of 
cooperation afforded us by France. The King of Wiirtem- 
berg and the Grand Duke of Baden will be only too glad 
to purchase safety by timely concessions, and it must depend 
on our agents to prevent the people at large being satisfied 
with a mere measure of reform. All is in readiness for the 
movement, and the leaders of the popular party are playing 
our game unconsciously. They have set the ball rolling, 
and when they attempt to stop it they will find that they must 



MTCHING MALLECHO. ] 17 

give way, and follow the impulse. But, if French troops 
ojce appear in the land, the flame will be kindled and 
rapidly spread. The Prussian king will not then step forward 
as the champion of autocracy, and, indeed, he will have 
enough to do at home." 

" Ah bah ! you seem to me frightened of those Prussians. 
They are worse than useless — they are idiots enough to 
believe in the efficacy of religion, and fancy the prosperity 
of the nation is inextricably linked with the completion of 
the Cologne cathedral. Their pietist king is clever enough 
to pamper the feeling, and he has succeeded in isolating 
Prussia from the rest of Germany. The Rhenish provinces 
once lost, and the cathedral with them, the people will 
believe that the glory has departed from Israel, and will in 
Tain summon the rest of Germany to a holy war. The 
time has passed for such nonsense." 

" You take, I am afraid, too sanguine a view of Ger- 
many. It is true that the Germans regard the Prussians 
with dislike, but that dislike is mingled with a great 
amount of dread, such as boys feel for their schoolmaster. 
Prussia has so long taken the intellectual lead, and the 
tranquillity produced by her institutions has led to such a 
forced belief in her vitality, that any independent move- 
ment in Germany must have the support of the Prussian 
nation to insure its permanent success." 

"And that support we are promised. So soon as the tocsin 
of revolution sounds in the streets of Paris, the knell of 
monarchy will peal in Berlin. We have the surest promises 
of support, and are inclined to put trust in them. The 
movement cannot fail, believe me ; our measures are so 
carefully arranged through the whole breadth of Europe 
that we must succeed. But we wish, for our own security, 
that the revolution should not appear to emanate from 
France alone ; and, if south Germany will rise simulta- 
neously with us, and thus prove that the old national 
hatred has been extirpated, to give place to the pure princi- 
iles of fraternity, the game will be won, and we, M. Kurz, 
.hall obtain the long looked-for reward of our exertions." 

" I will immediately proceed to Hanau, and lay the result 
of our interview before the committee, which, I feel sure, 
will cordially respond. But tell me, how stands it in this 
country— shall we have the support of our brethren here?" 

" What can be expected from the stolid Britons ? They 
are revelling in the result of their free-trade doctrines ; and, 
though, we have many friends scattered over the country, 



118 WILD OATS. 

they are almost powerless against that feeling which induces 
the people to look for relief in moral resistance. They will 
never take the lead in any movement to subvert monarchy ; 
but we must humour them — their money is useful to us. 
We will go presently and see that M. Simmonds, the corre- 
sponding member and representative of the English 
Chartists, but not a word to him of our arrangements. He 
is so full of excitement and of his own importance, that he 
would spread the news abroad and ruin our scheme." 

" I think, for my part, that the English nation are pre- 
pared for revolution. They have been so long held down 
by the aristocracy that they are not yet conscious of their 
strength; but this free -trade conquest has partially en- 
lightened them. They have slipped the bit, and are revel- 
ling in their fancied freedom. Before long the pressure 
will recommence, and the government will try to keep them 
in hand ; but a nation which has once enjoyed the fruits of 
liberty, as conquered by itself, will not easily return 
to its pristine condition. The English have taken up 
arms before now in defence of trifles, and I feel that the 
great example we shall furnish them wili not fail of its 
effect." 

" My dear M. Kurz," said the Frenchman dryly, " I am 
afraid that, for a revolutionist, you are too much imbued 
with the German passion for theorising. You forget that 
England has a safety-valve always ready in emigration, and 
the rulers will never allow matters to come to a crisis. As 
a student of history you should remember how England was 
kept down at a much more perilous crisis than this. When 
the people groaned under the intolerable pressure of war 
taxation, and ventured to murmur, the Habeas Corpus Act was 
suspended, and the leaders were shipped without noise to the 
plantations. At the present day government behaves differ- 
ently ; opportunities for voluntary emigration are allowed, 
and all the hot heads who find they have not sufficient room 
for expansion at home carry their theories across the Atlantic. 
Besides, the leaders of the revolutionary party in England 
hold no social rank; their fiery attacks on the existing 
state of things fall on barren soil, and are mostly confined 
to the ateliers. No; England will never follow the glorious 
example we are willing to give. But I allow that no harm 
would result from a popular insurrection ; the houses of the 
nobility and the public buildings would form an admirable 
field for a skilful leader, and with this view I have recently 
been examining them closely. Their Bank invites plunder : 



MtCHTNG MALLECHO. 119 

it is guarded by two policemen! What a magnificent 
prospect, and yet how shamefully neglected !" 

The two men were silent for awhile, evidently lost in pro- 
found thought at the plunder which an attack on the Bank 
of England would produce ; and they deeply regretted, I 
have no doubt, that they could not land an army of their 
adherents to carry out this laudable object. Then M. 
Kurz proceeded : — 

" It is indeed lamentable that Englishmen should be so 
blinded to their interests. What a superb operation might 
be effected in a city which contains such a surplus popula- 
tion belonging to the dangerous classes ! But should we 
not enlighten this Mr. Simmonds, and induce him to 
get up an insurrection, by means of which such immense 
funds could be placed at the service of the fraternal de- 
mocracy?" 

" Hush ! not a word must be breathed on such a subject, 
or good-bye to our subsidies. You do not understand the 
English yet, M. Kurz. These leaders of the people are so 
bigoted as to act from purely patriotic motives. The work- 
men may be starving, yet they will contribute their mite to 
the support of the great cause; but they would sooner die 
than raise a hand to plunder. I am certain that, if a revo- 
lution were to be successfully carried through in England 
to-morrow, the first step of the provisional government 
would be to hang any plunderer. Such would be their way 
of rewarding patriotism ! After that I need not tell you 
that any allusion to the wealth which might be obtained 
from a timely movement would render Mr. Simmonds a 
dangerous enemy, instead of the very useful friend he 
now is." 

"Inexplicable people, the English!" M. Kurz sighed, 
most sincerely I believe. " When will the light of pure 
reason dawn for the nation ? " 

" Never, I am afraid," said M. Lestignac in reply ; " but 
that does not prevent us milking the cow. We must humour 
the leaders, and let them believe that the impending Euro- 
pean revolution is impelled by the purest motives, and then 
we can make sure of monetary support from them. Large 
sums will be requisite, and 1 am sorry to say that Father 
Giudacci has brought us very unsatisfactory promises from 
Eome, instead of the moneys he ought to have paid in. 
Our treasury is nearly exhausted, and it must be filled 
again before any revolution can succeed in Paris." 

" And we are much in the same plight, for the committee 



120 WILD OATS. 

voted a considerable sum for the purchase of arms and manu- 
facture of pikes, and secrecy is one of the most expensive 
items put up for sale. We cannot hold out much longer, 
and I fear that the crisis must he precipitated, or else our 
committee will be dissolved. Hence I am disposed to be- 
lieve that they will coalesce in the views put forward by you 
in behalf of the fraternal societies of France." 

" A glorious future is, then, in store for us, and the prin- 
ciples of liberty, equality, and fraternity will reign triumph- 
ant in Europe. En avant, marchons! so now to Mr. 
Simmonds. You will find him at No. 22, Turnagain Lane, 
in Camden Town. At five o'clock we will meet there, and 
hear what England is prepared to do in the coming 
glorious era." 

And with this agreement they parted, and returned the 
same roads by which they had met. 

And such, my countrymeu, is one of the results of those 
blessed national institutions of which we justly feel so 
proud. The liberty of the subject, pushed to its excess, 
has rendered us morally responsible for the blood shed so 
wantonly in Europe. The Home Office had received full in- 
formation from the embassies that these dangerous firebrands 
had landed on our shores; and, although the precautions 
the emissaries took rendered certainty impossible, they were 
justly suspected of being the agents of the democratic party. 
But of course it was no concern of ours ; they offended 
none of our laws, and, had they been arrested, and the 
motive for their landing inquired into, some member would 
have risen in the house, and caused a hubbub which the 
government was not inclined to resist. So, perhaps, it 
acted for the best ; and while assuring the embassies that 
every step should be taken to prevent any overt act of 
treason, the spies were left at full liberty to find out for 
themselves what particular cause induced these gentlemen 
to visit our shores, and report home the result of their 
espionage. 

But M. Herman Kurz and M. Lestignac were not novices 
in the pleasant art of revolution, and they quietly t\"0- 
ceeded on their various routes, as if perfectly unconscious 
of the watchful eyes fixed upon them, or the insidious at- 
tempts strangers made to invite their confidence. 



WIND-BAGS. 121 



CHAPTER XV. 

WIND-BAGS. 



" And a very satisfactory result I think that is, Jenny — a 
season over, and only two holes, nothing to speak of, which 
half a yard of oiled silk will make right, .£146 left for the 
winter, and, above all, the interests of society promoted hy 
Professor Mudfog's valuable researches into the state of 
the atmosphere. Come, old girl, we haven't done amiss ; 
and there'll be something left for the fraternal democrats 
too." 

"Bother your Fraternals, I say!" replied the lady thus 
apostrophised. "I can't think what good you'll get by 
your fraternising — a parcel of guzzling rascals who are too 
lazy to work, and always borrowing from such foolish 
fellows as you." 

" Why, Jenny, haven't I told you scores and scores of 
times that, when the great social republic is established, 
1 have a promise from Mr. Wetherspoon, the president that 
is to be, that I shall be aeronaut-in-chief to the govern- 
ment? No more Convolvulus gardens then, old girl ! I 
shall he a regularly paid professor, and then won't I serve 
out that old vagabond of a Bumpus for cutting me down 
two pounds an ascent." 

" I tell you what it is, Mr. Simmonds," the lady angrily 
went on, " mind you don't get yourself into trouble with 
the police. The gentleman on our beat told Mary the other 
night as good as that he'd got orders to watch who came in 
and out, and that you were a dangerous character. He 
wanted her to let him into the kitchen, that lie might hear 
what you were all talking about; but she soon sent him off 
with a flea in his ear. I fancy it was the cold beef he'd 
have liked to pay his attention to, and not to your foreign 
songs." 

" Such, my dear Jenny, is one of the consequences 
peculiar on being a public character. My letters signed 
' Brutus are beginning to excite a sensation ; a cowardly 
government is growing alarmed, and is trying to terrify me, 
although conscious that it cannot stem the current of pro- 
gress. But I am prepared to die a martyr to the great 



122 WILD OATS. 

cause. Let them come on — Job Simmonds will be tbe same 
on the scaffold as he has hitherto proved. Jane, send for 
some beer — I am thirsty." 

And Mr. Simmonds (I beghis pardon, Professor Simmonds) 
folded bis arms in a magniloquent manner, and prepared to 
wage wordy warfare with an army of truculent policemen. 
But the bloodthirsty mood was not proof against the look 01 
comic surprise which his wife assumed, and he, too, soon 
broke out into a hearty laugh, which was rendered still 
heartier by the arrival of the beer. 

This conversation had been carried on in a large loft, 
which was crowded with various articles appertaining to the 
aeronautic professor. Suspended from abeam was the state 
car, now stripped of its gay trappings, and leaving exposed 
the wickerwork substratum. In one corner lay the balloon 
itself, emitting a far from savoury smell of India-rubber 
Tarnish, while the valve was laid on a shelf above it. All 
round the room were curious instruments, and ropes fes- 
tooned on th£ walls, while several models of aerostatic 
machines in various stages of progression showed that the 
professor held his trade in high esteem. 

The professor was, indeed, an enthusiast, and, as a neces- 
sary consequence, had spent every available shilling in in- 
venting schemes to steer balloons. Theoretically they were 
admirable, and when the little models — aided by a pair of 
gigantic bellows raised on a stand, and employed to inflate 
the balloon for reparatory purposes — sailed across the loft, 
the professor felt that his success was certain. Unfortunately, 
when tried on a larger scale the experiment always failed; but 
the professor was not discouraged. He would set to work 
again with unfailing energy, and try to solve the riddle. 
It is needless to add that the only certainty he ever acquired 
was that his money went, and he had nothing to show for it. 

Personally the professor was a quaint-looking little man, 
with a huge reddish-grey moustache and beard, and legs 
and arms by no means to match. I believe every bone in 
his body, including his collar-bone, had been fractured by 
various experiments with parachutes, which had been for a 
time his mania; but this had not in anyway diminished his 
courage. He was quite ready, at any given moment, to 
descend in a parachute, and police prohibition against such 
dangerous schemes had been his first great grievance against 
government. The next one was more legitimate. He had 
suggested to the Admiralty a method by which balloons could 
be employed in the Arctic regions, and which would have 



WIND-BAGS. 123 

proved very useful ; at any rate he ought to have been treated 
courteously, considering that he asked nothing fox,himself, 
but had even spent a considerable sum in experimentalising. 
But the First Lord had not taken the slightest notice of his 
petition, and for a whole summer he had brooded over his 
wrongs, and only wished be had the First Lord up in the 
car with him. 

During the winter the professor was necessarily idle, and 
Satan soon took advantage of his want of occupation to throw 
him into contact with a party of disappointed men who were 
plotting how to overthrow the government, and build on its 
ruins a social republic. Had their means been equal to 
their ability they might have proved dangerous; but fortu- 
nately they could only plot treason, and had no chance of 
carrying it out. The professor was a perfect godsend to 
them, for he was, comparatively with themselves, a mil- 
lionaire ; and amazing were the pots of beer they drank at 
his expense on the occasion of his initiation. Being a 
very generous man bis purse was open to all the brothers, 
and they rewarded him by electing him corresponding 
member of their club, for, among other accomplishments, 
he spoke French fluently. 

Now, I do not fancy that the professor ever gave a thought 
to what would happen in the event of their plotting proving 
successful ; he merely joined in under a vague notion that 
he could annoy the First Lord in some way ; but as for de- 
posing the Queen, I am sure he never took such a step into 
calculation. The president of the republic, of whom he 
talked so glibly, represented to his ideas a successor of Lord 
John, a people's friend, who would go in for the charter, 
and never rob a poor man of his beer. No wonder, then, 
that M. Lestignac spoke so contemptuously of the little 
professor. 

After the refreshing draught of beer the professor pro- 
ceeded to mend the balloon, and make all snug for the 
winter. He then carefully inspected his models, and swore 
once or twice very harmlessly at the First Lord when he came 
to the one which had caused him such ire. From the loft 
he proceeded to the yard, where he was greeted by a tre- 
mendous outburst of barking, for the professor was an in- 
tense friend of the canine species, and any stray or master- 
less dog was sure of present shelter from him. He had, 
indeed, been pulled up once or twice for dog - stealing, 
and great was his wrath that he had been convicted by 
a magistrate and sentenced to a ^5 fine because he wore a 



124 WILD OATS. 

white hat, and the blear-eyed Solon considered that none 
but blackguards wore that species of head-covering. But, 
take him altogether, the professor was as harmless a little 
man as you could find in London, and, even if he did preach 
subversive doctrines, he had no idea what they would prove 
in their development. With him republicanism was a safety- 
valve for his hot humours — a plaything, like a model, on 
which to theorise; and I am certain, had matters come to 
extremities, and Her Majesty's throne been endangered, he 
would have been one of the first to rally round it, and punch 
the head of any French fraterniser who dared to lay unholy 
hands upon the institutions of this country. 

The dangerous men who had linked him in their schemes 
were fully aware of the good heart which prompted the little 
man, and therefore very cautiously avoided letting him know 
any more of their secrets than was convenient. His vanity 
was pleased by the title of " corresponding member," and, 
although I do not believe his letters altogether contained a 
line of treason, he felt intensely proud of his exalted posi- 
tion, and would no doubt have gladly become a martyr, if 
the government had been so foolish as to interfere with his 
harmless insanity. 

It was quite true that the professor's house was watched, 
but not, as he expected, on his own account. The autho- 
rities had their eye upon him, but Mr. Buinpushad responded 
for his loyalty, and he was left alone. But it was advisable 
to detect the men who employed him as a catspaw, and 
who, at the same time, were spreading discontent among the 
London workmen ; and J have no doubt that, in good time, 
they Wt.re introduced to Captain Chesterton, and had to 
climb that ladder which has no topmost rung. But with 
them I have no acquaintance. My history is too aristocratic 
to condescend to bilious shoemakers and tailors, and I only 
mention them here because I wish to enlist the sympathies 
of my readers in behalf of the little professor, who was 
decidedly " more sinned against than sinuing." 

Such being his present temper, I need not say how proud 
the professor felt at the visit of M. Lestignac, the agent of 
the French Fraternal Democrats, so soon followed by his 
coadjutor, Herman Kurz. The cleanest of pipes and the 
creamiest of half-and-half were produced for their 
special delectation, and the conversation soon took a very 
interesting turn, Mrs. Simmonds the while scarcely caring 
to veil her coutempt and detestation of those " ojous " 
foreigners. The professor, however, loftily waved her from 



WIND-BAGS. 125 

the room, as the interview was not intended for feminine 
ears, which the lady obeyed, giving him, however, strong 
hints not to make such a fool of himself as usual. 

" Well, gentlemen, and how long before we shall bail the 
cry of Vive la Republique?" said the professor eagerly, and 
hitting out wildly at an imago of the First Lord he had 
conjured up. 

" Hush, my dear Simmonds," the Frenchman checked 
him ; " such words as those must not be uttered rashly. 
There are spies abroad : I saw one of the myrmidons of 
government close to your door." 

" Let them hear it : what care I ? Job Simmonds insists 
on being a martyr for the holy cause;" aDd he took a 
sanguinary revenge on the pot of half-and-half, the foreigners 
regarding the disappearance of the fluid with vacant looks 
of regret. 

" You are, as usual, impetuous to the extreme, mon cher ; 
but, if you are prepared for martyrdom, we have a holy 
work yet to carry out. Our suffering brethren are anxiously 
waiting our return. I trust that I shall be enabled to carry 
back some compensation with me. How stand the sub- 
scriptions?" 

" Ahem, ahem ! " coughed the professor, as a warning to his 
wife, who was evidently listening, to desist; "I am sorry to 
say they are not satisfactory; trade is slack, and the brothers 
are unable to assist in the cause to the extent they might 
wish ; in point of fact, they only amount to 15s. 9d. " 

" Oh, perfidious Albion ! " the Frenchman despairingly 
groaned. 

" — But I am willing to contribute my mite," the professor 
added, "and shall be happy to give you .£20 " 

" Job ! " said a shrill voice at the door ; but the professor 
took no notice. 

"Generous mortal!" the Frenchman ejaculated; "the 
president of the universal republic shall be made aware of 
this. Your money is put out to good interest. When the 
great day dawns for Europe the name of Job Simmonds 
shall be inscribed in letters of gold at the head of the bene- 
factors to society." 

The professor proceeded to his bureau to fetch the re- 
quired sum ; but Mrs. Simmonds's patience was now ex- 
hausted, and she rushed into the room, fully determined to 
prevent an outlay which represented any quantity of new 
dresses and bonnets. 

"Oh, Job!" she said bitterly, "you're a bigger fool 



J 26 WILD OATS. 

than ever. You 're going to give your money to this 
foreigner, and forget how many poor creatures are starving 
at home. Besides, I want a new dress and bonnet, and 
you told me this morning you couldn't afford it, and now 
you 're going to give away ^20 to this swindler. Don't 
tell me ! I 'm sure he 's a swindler with his fraternity ! 
Didu't that Pole who stole your great coat out of the 
passage talk about the great brotherhood of nations and 
his estates, and you gave him a sovereign and he took the 
coat? Pah, I haven't patience with you, that I haven't !" 

" Gentlemen," Job replied, turning to his visitors, " you 
will pardon her, I am sure. Women's minds are not con- 
stituted so that they shall understand the blessings of pure 
democracy. Mrs. Simmonds," he then added, turning to 
his still irate wife, " I can pardon your ignorance ; hut I 
cannot forgive your interference. I shall feel obliged by 
your retiring from the apartment, and attending exclusively 
to your domestic duties by sending for some more beer." 

Mrs. Simmonds was going to commence a fresh expostu- 
lation ; but the sight of the money being handed to the 
" brother " overpowered her, and she quitted the room with 
a most furious bang of the door. 

" Yes, gentlemen," Job then proceeded, " I am only too 
glad that I have it in my power to evince my adherence to 
the great principles to which we all do homage. But I 
have a sublime idea to make known to you ; it occurred to 
me this morning when in bed. I have hit on a scheme by 
which Louis Philippe can be dislodged without a blow being 
struck." 

" Indeed ! And would you impart it to us, that I may lay 
it before the committee?" M. Lestignac remarked eagerly. 

" Most willingly. I propose that my balloon shall ascend 
from Paris laden with bombshells. As soon as I get over 
the Tuileries I will render it stationary by a mechanism 
which I am now perfecting, and I will launch the projectiles 
in turn with such precision that the entire palace shall be 
destroyed in five minutes. What say you, gentlemen ?" 

[And this is another of those anomalies of which my 
history is so full. Job Simmonds, who would not hurt a 
fly wittingly, and was notorious for his kind heart, talked 
as coolly about destroying the French royal family as a 
butcher would of cutting a sheep's throat. How it is I 
cannot explain, but such is human nature.] 

Both gentlemen expressed their delight at the scheme, 
and called it admirable, but agreed that it would be a pity 



WIND-BAGS. 127 

to destroy so magnificent a palace merely to get rid of a 
worthless old king ; so Job was obliged to be contented 
with the empty praise, and a promise that he should be 
aeronautic professor to the president of the French republic 
when his scheme might have a chance of being employed 
against some of the enemies of the country. 

For an hour or two the foreigners discussed social politics 
with the professor, and so delighted did he feel that I am 
happy to say they departed before he had an opportunity to 
make further monetary sacrifices for the good cause, as he 
had intended to do. 

Foor Job ! he was but a child in the hands of these prac- 
tised men of the world, who fooled him to the top of his 
bent, and would have sold him without hesitation to save 
their own worthless necks. The amiable theorist could not 
or would not see the logical consecpuences of his dogmas, 
and though his wife justly upbraided him, after the depar- 
ture of the foreigners, for his extreme gullibility, the pro- 
fessor was by this time far removed above all mundane con- 
siderations, and was soon dreaming that he was paying a 
visit to the Emperor of the Moon, who appointed him 
director-in-chief of the aerostatic railway between London 
and Laputa. 

The two foreign gentlemen parted soon after leaving the 
professor's hospitable mansion. How they spent the rest of 
the evening I really cannot say, but it was at any rate a 
curious coincidence that two letters in different ciphers went 
off by that night's mail addressed to the Russian ambassador 
at Frankfort, and stating that the revolution would break 
out at any moment that his Imperial Majesty judged most 
advisable. 

Perhaps, too, this may account for the fact that both 
gentlemen the next morning changed a large quantity of 
ruble notes in the vicinity of the Exchange, and I very much 
doubt whether the proceeds went to fill the existing gap in 
the republican treasury. 

M. Lestignac, on crossing to France, was arrested in 
Boulogne ; but the police were compelled to let him go, as 
there was not a scintilla of evidence against him ; while 
M. Kurz, after making a needlessly long stay in Ham- 
burg, and having mysterious conferences with several 
individuals, also returned home to lay the result of his 
interview before the Central Committee. 



•128 WILD 0AI8. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

FILTA DOLOROSA. 

The defection of the Marquis was Dot the only blow from 
which Madame Leblanc was destined to suffer, for she had 
scarcely returned to Paris ere her very existence seemed to 
be compromised by a change in the views of the French 
government. There was a menacing cloud brooding over 
Paris; mobs of discontented artisans assembled in the fau- 
bourgs, and the aspect they assumed was so stern that 
Louis Philippe thought it advisable not to employ his 
favourite remedy of the fire-engine. It was evident that the 
movement was directed from higher quarters than the com- 
mittee rooms of the democrats, for brochures and placards 
were continually flying about, while the hitherto invincible 
chief of the secret police was unable to detect the officina 
whence they emanated. 

Under these awkward circumstances the government 
determined to vent its spite on the salons. It was pre- 
sumed that these social reunions were converted into an 
arena for intrigue, and the police would not recognise the 
fact that gamblers are so absorbed by their master passion, 
that they have no superabundant energy to employ in 
plotting against kings. However, the fiat went forth, and 
at one fell swoop all those houses where playmen had spent 
their evenings profitably and harmlessly were closed until 
further orders. For awhile Madame Leblanc tried to make 
head against the storm, and would have kept open in defi- 
ance of the authorities, but her old friend, the police agent, 
strongly advised submission, and urged that it would be 
only a temporary measure. Madame Leblanc, fretting 
inwardly, was forced to yield, and made up for her disap- 
pointment by instituting a system of ingenious torture 
against Helen's peace of mind. 

Madame Leblanc was naturally superstitious, and had 
more faith in omens than in religion ; and when it occurred 
to her that her ill fortune dated from Helen's arrival she 
began to detest her, as the cause of all her downfall. Hence 
ehe gloated over the traces of carking care visible on poor 
Helen's face; and though a word from her would have been 



F1LIA DOLOROSA 129 

sufficient to restore the sunshine, that word she determined 
not to utter ; so poor Helen wandered about, the ghost of 
her former self, earnestly praying that her mother's temper 
might change, and for strength from above to enable her 
to endure all her trials. But all the devoted love Helen 
displayed was insufficient to alter Madame Leblanc's con- 
duct, and bitterly my heroine regretted that she had ever 
been summoned to her mother's side. At times she more 
than half resolved to benefit by Mr. Worthington's gift, and 
fly from her trials ; but she felt that it would be ungrateful 
on her part to leave her mother when adversity had fallen 
upon her, and her native pride would not permit the 
thought for a moment that change of circumstances might 
be presumed to have caused a change in her affection. 

But the closing of the salons did not prove a temporary 
measure ; on the contrary, the police instituted a very strict 
surveillance, and it became almost impossible to infringe 
their regulations. At last Madame Leblanc was obliged to 
give way ; she quitted her luxurious apartment, and removed 
to a small third floor in the Rue St. Honore, the only 
servant she retained being Julie. She spent her time alter- 
nately in abusing the police aDd in strict attention to the 
offices of her religion, both of which, I regret to say, only 
served to exacerbate her temper. 

This more immediate contact with her mother only in- 
creased the poor girl's sufferings. Hitherto she had been 
comparatively a stranger to that amiable lady, and had only 
seen her in her best clothes and best behaviour ; but now 
she had only too many opportunities of gauging the rotten- 
ness of her heart, and the corruption which pervaded her 
every thought. Self was the watchword ; and though ex- 
ternally liberal so long as money was at her command, 
now that the pressure came upon herself there was a great 
change in the conduct of the household. Madame Leblanc 
never thought proper to deny herself any luxury in or 
out of season : money was always forthcoming to satisfy 
her most exorbitant wants ; but Helen was made the suf- 
ferer in many ways. Not that she cared per se for the loss 
of luxury ; how she lived was a matter of perfect indifference 
to her ; but as a touchstone of her mother's affection the 
change was very painful. Helen began to see that her 
mother's affection for her depended on external relations, 
%nd this is one of the most painful discoveries which a 
loving heart can make. 

But worse remained behind. In proportion as their 

s 



130 WILD OATS. 

status in society lowered, so did the company who visited 
them, and Helen was at times horrified by the allusions 
made in her presence. The women in whose conversation 
her mother took such delight, and who seemed to wake her 
up from the lethargy into which she had fallen, Helen felt 
intuitively were not the persons with whom a pure-minded 
girl should associate; but when she ventured to appeal to 
her mother that lady merely laughed, and told her that such 
straitlaced notions were only suited for brumous England. 

The only person connected with their past splendour 
that still visited them was Mr. Smoothley, who had been 
many a time a victim to Madame's knack of turning the 
king. He did not play now ; but in Helen's view he did 
worse, for he pestered her with his attentions, and some- 
thing told her that his motives were not honourable toward 
her. It was a nothing, probably the result of Helen's 
excess of caution in her present society, which warned her 
against him — for be did not utter a word to offend her pride 
or her innocence; but she shrank from him instinctively, 
and was only too happy to escape from the impure air of 
home, and seek shelter and room for meditation in the 
Bois de Boulogne. Here she had chosen a secluded spot, 
where she nursed her woes, and thought much more than 
was good for her about her Charles. 

In spite of her earnest resolves to regard him only as 
brother, Helen could noteradicate that strongfeeling of love 
which her conscience told her was not such as should subsist 
between brother and sister. But my readers must not blame 
her for this ; some dark hints dropped by the mysterious 
Julie had raised a flutter of hope in her wearied heart, and 
she dared nurse the delicious hope that her mother's fearful 
secret was untrue. Oh, what blessed manna the idea was 
to my dear Helen ! Can anything more pitiable be con- 
ceived than a poor girl, who is imbued with the purest feel- 
ings, striving against the criminal love which had grown 
with her growth, and strengthened with her strength ? She 
had made up her mind to die — better so than lead a life of 
agony and remorse ; and now that Julie had whispered to 
her doubts of her mother's story, how glorious life seemed 
to her ! What did she care about the wretchedness of her 
home, so long as this blessed idea blossomed in her heart, 
and brought forth a plentiful crop of promised happiness 
and bright resolves ? 

One morning while Helen was seated at the accustomed 
spot, and meditating over her future course of life, if events 



FILIA DOLOROSA 131 

compelled her to quit the shelter of her mother's roof, she 
was accosted by a stranger, whom she bad noticed anxiously 
gazing on her for the last few mornings, and who now seated 
himself by her side. There was nothing, however, in his 
appearance to inspire distrust; his face breathed gentle- 
ness and benevolence, and Helen felt an irresistible im- 
pulse to talk to him, and gain from him that confidence 
in life which he seemed so well adapted to impart. He was 
a very old man, feebly tottering on a gold-headed stick ; but 
there was nothing repulsive about his senility. On the 
contrary, he bore the evident traces of having passed a 
happy and contented life in the exercise of that religion of 
which his velvet skull cap indicated him a minister. 

Now, Helen had very strange notions about her. She 
did not think, because she was a firm Protestant, that 
all members of the sister church were booked for a very 
naughty place. In point of fact her education had been 
sadly neglected, and a due course of Exeter Hall lectures 
would have shown her the error of her heterodox tenets. 
As it was, she had an idea that, if a person held afirm belief 
in his own mode of worshipping the universal Creator, and 
lived a life in accordance with the views in which he had 
been brought up, he stood as good a chance of future hap- 
pioess as the most faithful Protestant — a very lax code of 
morality, I am afraid ; but I do not think it rendered my 
Helen less inclined to believe in the truth of revelation. 
Hence, when the old priest addressed her, she did not turn 
and go on the other side as if he would contaminate her, 
but paid due reverence to his grey hairs. 

" Pardon an old man, Mademoiselle ; but I have noticed 
that you appear unhappy and perturbed in spirit for a long 
time, and it is the glorious privilege of the servants of 
every religion to comfort and help the weak-hearted." 

" Indeed, Monsieur, you are mistaken. I should be suf- 
ficiently happy were it not for a divided duty on which 
I cannot form a resolve." 

" You are English and a Protestant, I presume, and 
hence may feel disinclined to confide in the minister of a 
different faith ; but, believe me, I feel an interest in you, 
and would gladly employ my feeble powers to set you on 
the right road. We are taught that ' a house divided 
against itself cannot stand.' What, then, must be the con- 
dition of a mind which my judgment leads me to believe is 
struggling between duty and affection ! Hah ! you start ! 
My surmise is, then, well founded." 



132 WILD 0AT3. 

" No, Monsieur, you are again mistaken ; you merely 
touched a painful chord ; but the weakness is past. I am 
afraid the malady is beyond the resources of your art, and 
even were I to solicit your aid, you would be obliged to re- 
epond in a manner contrary to my inclination." 

The conversation then turned on popular topics, in which 
the priest displayed a wondrous amount of talent and dis- 
crimination, and it grew with Helen into a regular custom 
to meet the Abbe, and draw some consolation from the 
fund of benevolence which he had ever in readiness 
for her. 

Strange to say, this old priest earnestly besought Helen to 
seek strength and comfort in her Bible ; for, as he truly 
said, there were no evils, however terrible in their conse- 
quences they might appear, which could not be remedied 
from the sacred pages of the divine mission. I can see 
Mrs. Jones shaking her head incredulously, and muttering 
that all priests are wolves in sheep's clothing ; but she is 
mistaken in this instance. If Mrs. Jones had enjoyed the 
opportunities which have fallen to my lot of conversing 
with priests who have lived through all the horrors of the 
revolution she would probably alter her opinion. A long 
life of seclusion had taught my old friend, the Abbe Con- 
damine, that there were faults on both sides, and that a re- 
ligion which could be so utterly subverted as was his faith 
in 1792 must necessarily be suffering from some inherent 
defect, which God, for His all -wise purposes, had thus 
punished. Not that he had doubted for a moment the vitality 
of his church ; he was certain that it would rise again more 
powerful and universal than before, and that the trials it had 
undergone would purify it. Sad was his temper, therefore, 
when he found that the church to which he had sworn obedi- 
ence had, like the Bourbons, learned nothing and forgotten 
nothing during the period of its dethronement, and that it de- 
sired secular aggrandisement, instead of imitating the sub- 
lime humility of its Great Founder. After a severe mental 
struggle he determined that he would no longer take an 
active part in the ecclesiastical polity. A small annuity he 
enjoyed secured him from want, and he spent his life in the 
practice of active benevolence. He had gradually estab- 
lished around him a small clientele of proteges, and on their 
behalf would dauntlessly invade the abodes of the rich and 
the great. Whenever a good action was to be done no re- 
buff would intimidate him ; and though constitutionally 
the most nervous of men, be would have willingly faced a 



FILIA DOLOROSA. 133 

lion if by so doing be could insure the permanent welfare 
of some deserving widow. 

But the most heterodox tenet he held was, that the cares 
of this world should be removed before any attempt was 
made to inculcate the precepts of religion. He never in- 
quired whether the recipients of his bounty attended mass 
regularly, or to what creed they might belong ; but so soon 
as their temporal welfare was attended to, and they had time 
to think of God apart from their daily bread, he introduced 
the subject. But not in a rough or domineering manner, 
like too many of the younger priests — far from this ; he con- 
descended to argue and teach the great truths of Christianity 
in a humble and penitent spirit. It is wonderful what a 
number of converts he made by this system ; and though 
the other priests were very indignant at his procedure, and 
tried hard to prevent the spread of such heterodoxical 
opinions, the life of the old priest was so blameless that no 
persuasion would induce the archbishop to interfere. 

While Abbe Condamine was welcomed with blessings 
among the poor, he was regarded by the rich as a harmless 
madman ; but this did no injury to his collection. People 
gladly gave, some to get rid of him, others because they 
felt a degree of reverence for his age and sainted appear- 
ance ; and he possessed many stanch friends among the 
middle classes, who, good Catholics as they were, were still 
not indisposed to thwart secretly the overbearing doctrines 
of the cures. While visiting a family residing in the same 
house as Helen Mowbray he beard some vague rumours 
about the unhappy life she led, and a hint was sufficient to 
set his active benevolence at work. He determined on 
forming her acquaintance, and we have seen how chance 
favoured his designs. 

But he could not induce Helen by any persuasion to con- 
fide to him what was preying on her mind. She felt that 
the unhappy terms on which she now lived with her mother 
ought not to become the topic of conversation even with a 
man whom she respected so much as the. Abbe ; and hence 
she bore her bitter burden unrepiningly, and struggled 
against the feeling which urged her to leave her mother's 
house at once before worse happened to her. What awaited 
her she could not imagine; but she was conscious that 
some plots were going on against her happiness, from the 
conferences her mother repeatedly held with Mr. Smoothley, 
and the hints Julie gave her that a friend was watching 
over her, and all would be well yet. At length Helen 



Id4 WILD OATS. 

was fated to learn the entire extent of her misfortune, and 
the full measure of her mother's love. 

She was seated in the drawing-room, engaged on one of 
those Penelope-like labours, which young ladies affection, 
and which never terminate. Her mother was absent from 
the house, as was, indeed, very frequently the case now, for 
her religion seemed to call her repeatedly to church, as if 
she were striving to reconcile her conscience and her in- 
terest by extreme outward devotion. Suddenly Helen heard 
a footstep in the outer room, and the Count made his ap- 
pearance. Helen was greatly startled by the fierce look of 
determination which had settled on his face, and still more 
by the words in which he addressed her. 

" The sacrifice is nearly consummated," he said in a 
hoarse, concentrated whisper, " and you are about to be- 
come the victim of your mother's artifices. All is arranged 
with Mr. Smoothley, and this day he will pay over the 
stipulated sum for which he purchases you. Was I not 
right in warning you ? No friend is here to take your part 
but myself. Will you longer remain deaf to my protesta- 
tions of love? I tell you that I alone can save you, and 
that you must fly with me this night, or it will be too 
late." 

Helen naturally thought that the Count was mad, and 
in her first impulse was about to spring up and ring the 
bell for assistance; but an iron grip held her, and the Count 
hissed, — 

" Foolish girl, you will not believe me? Then read this 
note addressed to your mother by Mr. Smoothley. It con- 
tains evidence to prove more than I have asserted. Read, I 
say, and see what a fond mother you have." 

Helen obeyed, and soon the sickening certainty over- 
powered her that her mother was ready to sacrifice her on 
the altar of selfishness. It stated that Mr. Smoothley would 
pay over this day the sum of ^61500, and would be at 
liberty to carry out his designs on Helen. I need not enter 
into the details of this villanous conspiracy ; it is sufficient 
to hint that every measure would be taken, and Helen have 
no chance of escape. But what should she do now ? She 
must fly, and that at once; but whither? Anywhere, any- 
where, even if out of the world, to escape so foul an indig- 
nity. So soon as the Count saw that she had mastered the 
contents of the letter he threw himself at her feet, and 
began another passionate avowal of his love, urging her 
to fly with him. 



FILIA DOLOROSA. 135 

But not unnoticed; Julie is standing at the half-closed 
door with a knife in her hand, and her eyes gleaming with 
fury. If Helen dared to consent to the Count's proposals 
she had sworn to kill her. The Count had promised to 
marry the waiting-maid, and, though she had apparently as- 
sented to his plans on Helen, she had never intended them 
to be earned out. But a glow of satisfaction crept over her 
face when she heard Helen say in a gentle voice, — 

" I thank you, Monsieur le Comte, for your kind interest 
in my welfare ; but I cannot accept your proposal. Helen 
Mowbray will know how to defend herself, and has friends 
on whom she can rely in the hour of need." 

The Count renewed his protestations, but, finding them 
in vain, quitted the room with an ominous scowl. No 
sooner was Helen alone than she penned the hurried note 
which caused such dire commotion at Giirkenhof, and 
slipped out to post it. She had not returned to the house 
a minute before Julie came to her, and urged her to fly at 
once if she wished to save herself from outrage. She must 
not stop in this dreadful house another night ; the safety of 
all depended on her immediate departure. Dizzied and 
helplessly struggling against contending emotions, Helen 
passively obeyed Julie's impetuous commands, and her pre- 
parations were speedily made for departure. But no per- 
suasion would induce her to remove one article given her 
by her mother ; she would leave her roof as she had entered 
beneath it, and the clothes she had brought with her from 
beloved Birchmere, and which she had kept from some 
superstitious motive, must now be turned to good stead. 

But where should she go — where find a shelter in this 
immense city, which did not contain a single friend in 
■whom she could trust? Yes, there was one — the Abbe. 
How could she have forgotten him? He had told her 
repeatedly to come to him in any emergency, he would pro- 
tect her against every enemy, and had given her an address 
to which she could apply. Mechanically she searched for 
it in her pocket-book : it was to " Mother Constantia, 
Directress of the Convent of the Bleeding Heart," and 
thither Helen determined to proceed at once, and await the 
coming of her beloved Charley. 

A fiacre was hurriedly summoned, into which Helen 
entered after taking an affectionate farewell of Julie, who 
Dad, after all, been a good friend to her. But Julie would 
not consent to hear where she was going; she said she did 
not wish her conscience hampered with further sins, and 



136 WILD OATS. 

when milady asked where Miss Helen was she could safely 
answer she did not know. Helen could write to her " poste 
restante " in a fortnight, when the alarm at her disappearance 
had Mown over, and till then she was to he a good girl, and 
hope for the best. Perhaps, Julie added, she might be able 
to give her some information soon which would gladden her 
little heart; but all in good time — she must wait and hope. 
Milady was not always so bad as she was just now, and she 
might possibly repent her conduct. 

So Helen drove away from the house, feeling wretched at 
her disobedience, and yet strangely comforted by Julie's 
half-allusions, and was soon heartily welcomed by Holy 
Mother, who seemed to have been expecting her coming, 
and was not at all surprised when the young English girl 
sought refuge among the Catholic sisters. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

' THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER.' 



When Madame Leblanc returned home and inquired foi 
Helen, the ever-watchful Julie told her that her daughter 
had been induced by Mr. Smoothley to accompany him to 
the Theatre Royal, to see Rachel in one of her great repre- 
sentations. Madame Leblanc smiled bitterly at the 
thought that Helen was thus playing into her hands, and 
retired to her room at an early hour, saying that she felt 
unwell, and did not wish to be disturbed. If Miss Helen 
returned soon she might come to her; if not, her mother 
desired to see her early in the morning. Julie retired with 
a bow, and Madame was left to her own devices. 

But not to sleep; she was restless, she knew not why; 
and a strange feeling of impending evil, she knew not 
whence, brooded over her. She began to reflect on the 
odious bargain she had made with Mr. Smoothley, and 
wished she could recall it. Her Helen was a good girl, 
better than she had ever been, and it would be too bad. to 
ruin her thus for her own schemes. But could she not hit 
on some device by which the evil might be prevented? 
Suppose she and Helen left Paris secretly and carried off 
the money, which was now lying in the escritoire, Mr. 
Smoothley could say nothing about being duped, for he 



"THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER." 137 

dared not, for' his own character's sake, avow the villanous 
bargain into which she had entered with him. Full of 
these thoughts she waited anxiously for Helen's return; 
but the hours passed by, and still no daughter came. It 
could not be that Mr. Smootbley bad found a willing victim 
in Helen, and yet her absence was strange ; she had never 
been so late from home before. Then that strange cynicism 
to which she did homage returned in full strength to 
Madame Leblanc. " Her mother's daughter," she mut- 
tered; "what else could I expect? The society into which 
I have lately forced her has borne its fruits. She will soon 
take her place in our ranks. Well, I shall be revenged on 
him. How furious he will be when he hears that his 
daughter has become like her mother — that daughter he 
would not recognise, but whom I will make knowD to him 
yet as having followed too faithfully in her mother's foot- 
steps. He will weep tears of blood when he finds that she 
knows his secret, and will drag his proud name through the 
mire. Ha, ha! he thought to bribe me to silence, and that 
I would forbear mentioning his name to my daughter. 'Tis 
true I was a fool to put myself in his power by marrying 
Monsieur Leblanc. How he found it out I never could 
imagine ; but it showed that he took greater interest in my 
proceedings than he would wish to be known. that I 
were rich now, to hurl his money in his face, and torture 
him by showing him his daughter degraded as her mother 
was before her ! Scoundrel that he was to me, and yet I 
loved that man once ! What fools women can be made by 
a gentle voice and winning manners !" 

These reminiscences worked Madame Leblanc up to a 
dangerous pitch, and I believe that for awhile she felt 
pleased that her daughter had yielded to the persuasions of 
Mr. Smoothley. But her thoughts took another turn so soon 
as she remembered the days of her own youth and innocence ; 
of the happy hours she had spent as a girl ; then of the 
first blissful dreams of love, and of her Charles, whom she 
had been so proud of. And what had she gained by a 
course of sin? Was she the better for it in any way? 
With fading health and diminished fortune she was now 
compelled to sell her own daughter for the satisfaction of 
her luxurious wants. And when the blood -money was 
spent what would become of her ? Where should she find a 
shelter when her own daughter would spurn her as the 
cause of her ruin ? The future was veiled in dark clouds ; 
there was no nrospect of salvation here or hereafter. If she 



] 38 WILD OATS. 

believed in anything it was in her religion, and that con- 
demned her without appeal. Her eye fell on the crucifix 
and she knelt in bitter agony, and really felt penitent when 
it was too late. She knew that it was too late ; the accursed 
money seemed to turn blood red, and cast a lurid light over 
the scene. She cowered down before the image of her out- 
raged Redeemer, and shrieked in her terror. 

After awhile the paroxysm went off, and Madame Leblanc 
began to think seriously. Her failing health warned her 
that she had no great length of life left, and if she intended 
to repent she must set about the task at once. At last she 
decided that she would retire into a convent, and by bitter 
chastisement endure personal punishment for her manifold 
sins. Material suffering seemed the only feasible plan to 
this strange paradox of woman, and she gloated over the 
idea of the flagellation she would patiently undergo, as a 
certain means of reconciliation with her offended God ; and 
then when she had secured her own pardon she would seek 
for Helen, and withdraw her from her sinful courses. She 
must be converted, and do penance in a convent for the 
crimes which her mother had forced upon her, and they 
might both be forgiven. Mr. Smoothley's money should be 
put to a good purpose, and if it rescued two souls from 
purgatory it might be that a special dictate of Providence 
had urged her to take it. 

Chastened and subdued in spirit, Madame Leblanc re- 
tired to her couch, and for the first time during many years 
wept glad tears. The future seemed to her secure ; her 
salvation could be insured so easily that she soon sobbed 
herself to sleep, her last muttered prayer being, " God 
guard my poor Helen this night!" And I trust that the 
prayer proved acceptable, and that Madame Leblanc's 
penitence was recognised as sincere by the Omniscient Eye 
— for it was her passport to eternity. 

While Madame was thus meditating and promising to 
herself a life of repentance, Julie was waiting impatiently 
and yet fearfully on ihe Place de la Concorde for the Count, 
who had promised to meet her there. She had to tell him 
of Helen's flight, and yet was afraid he might guess it was 
from her instigation. Nor were her fears unfounded; for, 
as soon as the Count heard her story, he hissed in her ear, 
" It is your doing, vixen !" and struck her violently in the 
face. 

For a moment Julie clutched at the bosom of her dress, 
and seemed struggling with her passion. At length she 



" THOU SHALT DO NO MUBDER." 139 

wiped the blood from her cheek, and coolly said, " That 
blow will cost you dear, Jacques ! " 

" Devil that you are !" he said, somewhat alarmed at her 
concentrated fury ; " why did you drive me to this? You 
know that I love you, and yet you have thwarted me in a 
scheme which promised us a glorious future." 

" And did you think I would suffer you to wed that 
English girl after all your promises to me ? You ought to 
have known me by this time, and that I would admit no 
rival to your heart. But you lose very little. Why not 
take the money Madame received to-day, and fly with me 
at once to Corsica?" 

" Ah, a good idea that ! I was unprepared, it is true, 
for such hurried movements ; but, perchance, 'tis all for 
the best. I will take the money at once, and we will fly to- 
gether ; but first I must summon my companion. Be here 
again in three hours' time, after fetching what you wish to 
cany with you; and stay, lend me your Corsican knife — I 
am going into dangerous company, and may want it in self- 
defence." 

"But no violence, Jacques; promise me that. She has 
been a good mistress to me, take her altogether, and I will 
not have her come to harm." 

" Fool ! yon do not think I wish to have a murder on 
my conscience ? I will take the money without disturbance, 
and we will fly. So kiss me, Julie, I am sorry I struck you ; 
but my passion overcame me." 

Ah, Jacques, Jacques! you did not understand that 
cold, deadly glance which Julie turned upon you, or yet, 
ruffian as you are, you would have thought again before 
you left her alone there to nurse her bitter thoughts of 
revenge. But you are safe for the present. She believes 
that you are sorry for your conduct ; but she has not for- 
given you. Some night the remembrance of that blow will 
revert to her as you lie clasped in her arms, and then fare- 
well, Jacques ! However, Julie proceeded home to pack up 
any items she wished to take with her, and while so en- 
gaged we will follow the soi-disant Count, and see what he 
is about. 

He dived through a number of tortuous streets, evincing 
a wonderful knowledge of all the patrols, and carefully 
avoiding them, until he found himself on the Marche des 
Innocents. He then walked rapidly toward a triangular 
lamp, bearing in large letters the name of Paul Niqdet, 
and, after a cautious glance around to see that no piling 



UO WILD OATS. 

eyes were upon him, he glided into the passage leading up 
to the estaminet, and soon stood before the counter, request- 
ing to be served with a glass of casse poitrine. 

And verily it was a cut-throat place, fit for the discussion of 
deeds of blood ; it was filthy to the extreme, and contained 
two bars and a long bench fastened to the wall, on which 
chiffonniers and other Parisian night-birds were snatching 
at a fearful sleep between the rounds of the patrol. But 
the person the Count was in search of was not visible, and 
he therefore hurried up to the end of the room — if a passage 
covered with glass may be thus called — and entered the 
little sanctum behind the bar, reserved for the more honour- 
able members of the thieving profession, and those gentle- 
men whose drinking powers had caused them to be regarded 
with respect and treated with reverence. 

The Count forced his way through the serried mass of 
guests who were lying about — some asleep, but the majority 
overpowered by the poison they had been imbibing in the 
shape of spirits. Even the Count, who was not particularly 
refined, was almost choked with the stifling atmosphere 
that pervaded the apartment, and was not sorry when he 
had found his looked-for companion, and beckoned him out 
into the corridor. 

" Meurt de Soif," he then whispered, " the time has come ; 
the job I told you of is to be done to-night. There are five 
hundred francs for you if we succeed." 

The stranger gave a lazy yawn, and merely said, " That s 
too little for cutting a throat. Make it a thousand, and 
I'm your man." 

" Nonsense, man ! I told you before I take all the risk on 
myself; you have only to wait at the outer door, and knock 
down anybody who tries to come in. Pah ! what are you 
afraid of? It s only an old woman." 

" no ! I 'm not afraid of anything ; but it 's not worth 
while putting one's self out of the way for so little. Besides, 
I 'm in funds today ; I eased an ass of an Englishman of 
a pocket-book containing two thousand francs, so I '11 go 
back and enjoy my sleep oat. Good night !" 

" Well, then," the Count said with a groan, " I suppose I 
must agree to'your terms, although they are very high. We 
can get in all right ; the porter has let me in before now so 
often at night that he won't feel any surprise. Do you slip 
in before me as soon as the string is pulled, and go straight 
up to the second floor, where I shall soon join you." 

With a few more whispered sentences the two assassins 



" IHOD SHALT DO NO MURDER." 141 

walked away, and by a circuitous route soon reached their 
destination. Everything turned out exactly as the Count 
had anticipated, and with his passepartout he let himself in. 
Meurt de Soif was left in the anteroom cooling his heels, 
while his accomplice stealthily entered the sleeping apart- 
ment. 

***** 

" Aha ! it 's becoming interesting," Meurt de Soif muttered 
to himself as he heard the hurried movements within the 
room. " My friend has not such an easy task as he had an- 
ticipated. Perhaps I had better go to his assistance." 

But his laudable design was frustrated by the Count 
making his appearance again at that moment with dis- 
hevelled hair, and evidently bearing traces of a violent 
conflict. 

" Ha ! " he muttered savagely, " she will now see whether 
her secret will serve her in the other world. She will not 
try again to find out what her friends wish to conceal from 
her. She brought it on herself. Why did she utter that 
odious name on recognising me ? And Julie, too, she little 
thought when she asked me to have her name engraved on 
the knife, and give it her as a keepsake, that it would furnish 
such deadly evidence against her. Ha, ha ! I am well rid of 
them both. And these papers will prove important. I will 
see what can be made of them." 

And the ruffian, utterly careless of the fate of the woman 
who had loaded him with favours, and the poor girl who had 
been his tool so long, noiselessly quitted the room with his 
accomplice, and they soon disappeared in the direction of 
the Pont Neuf. 

In the meanwhile Julie had been anxiously expecting 
the arrival of the Count, until, sick of waiting, and pre- 
suming that something had occurred to prevent the con- 
summation of the robbery, she returned home. In the 
morning she was aroused by a rough hand laid on her 
shoulder, and was ordered to rise at once ; and the horror 
Bhe displayed at the murder of her mistress would have 
proved to any one but a gendarme her perfect innocence of 
the deed. She was carried off very speedily to prison, and 
lay there for weeks. It is true that the drawing up of the 
proces verbal proved two important points in her favour — a 
lock of hair was found clutched in Madame Leblanc's hand, 
and a button torn from a dress coat was on the floor. It 
was, therefore, evident that Julie must have had an accom- 
plice, even if she were implicated in the deed ; but the 



143 WILD OATS. 

French police were soon engaged with more important 
matters than detecting a culprit, and Julie lay in prison 
for a long while, brooding over her wrongs and nursing her 
^revenge. 

The news of her mother's sad fate was very cautiously 
broken to Helen ; but it occasioned her the most bitter re- 
morsel She thought that she was the cause of it by her 
sudden departure ; or, at any rate, had she remained at home 
she might have prevented it ; and she fell into a fever, from 
which the physician found great difficulty in restoring her. 
Nor could she be induced to believe that Julie was the 
guilty party ; and though the evidence was so strong against 
her, she defended her strongly during the protracted in- 
quiries which were instituted by the police. At length the 
latter gentlemen thought proper to look a little beyond their 
noses, and laid all the guilt, and very properly, on the 
Count ; but when they went to look for him the bird had 
flown. It was not, however, till the outbreak of the revolu- 
tion that Julie regained her liberty, and with it opportunity 
to carry out a vow she had registered on her arrest, that she 
would follow M. Jacques and be revenged on him, were it 
even to the end of the world. 

It was a long time before Helen could recover from the 
shock her system had sustained, and the doubts about her 
relationship to Charles into which she was again thrown by 
Julie's departure added greatly to her illness. Nor can I 
suppose that the revolution promoted her well-being, for 
nervous young ladies are not particularly fireproof, and the 
noise of successive discharges of guns and artillery is apt 
to make themjump and start. But the " Sacred Heart" was 
not very badly treated after all; it was only occupied by a 
battalion of chasseurs, whose presence caused great per- 
turbation among the nuns, and made them feel they bad 
lost caste by contact with horrid men. But the soldiers be- 
haved with their accustomed gallantry, and did not even 
kiss the nuns, which, I fancy, some of the younger ones 
were rather disappointed at; for they would have dearly 
liked to commit a mortal sin, were it only for the pleasure 
of receiving absolution for it afterwards; and, although a 
few spoons were certainly missing, it was a moot point 
whether they bad not been cast into bullets, and used to 
kill some of the assailants of the true faith. 

As soon as Helen's convalescence was assured she re- 
turned to her old place in the parlour, and listened calmly 
to the many insidious attacks made upon her faith by the Holy 



" THOU SHA1T DO NO MURDER." 143 

Mother, accompanied by any quantity of sweet cakes and 
nips of cordials. I can assure my readers that there are 
many more unpleasant things than an attempted conver- 
sion by nuns. I once underwent it, and was most ready to 
be persuaded — so long as the very excellent Madeira lasted. 
At last, however, that heavenly liquid was abolished, and 
coffee produced in its stead ; and then, I am sorry to say, 
my doubts grew doubly strong, and I eventually quitted the 
convent religion whole. But they are dear old women, 
that is the truth ; and I still remember with unctuous lips 
that delicious Madeira. There is nothing like the palate 
for making converts. I fancy another half-dozen would 
have settled me. If Holy Mother had known that, would 
she not have laid in a fresh stock? And really, when re- 
ligious superstitions are abstracted, your nuns are very 
sensible women, and know a wonderful deal more (at least 
in England) about the goings on in the naughty world 
than you would give them credit for. I was quite sur- 
prised, I can assure you, at the amount of information 
which I gained by my lengthened conversations with the 
amiable old lady who attempted my conversion, more espe- 
cially in legends of saints, which I hope some day to turn 
to good profit. 

Helen, then, in her weakened state listened placidly to 
all the fabliaux which the holy mother produced for her 
special advantage, and I really fancy would have turned 
anything, even Catholic, for the sake of peace and quiet- 
ness. Unfortunately your nuns can never go straightfor- 
ward to any point; they wind round it, and draw perfidious 
parallels, but cannot say at once, " Ours is the only true re- 
ligion, and if you don't believe you '11 be ." No; they 

do their spiriting most gently, and those stories which have 
been read with such eagerness about conventual horrors are 
mere myths. Just imagine the life nuns lead, and you must 
acquit them of any inquisitionist propagandism. From my 
own experience (and that is tolerably extensive) I can vouch 
that their days are spent in making conserves and then eat- 
ing them, and their greatest apprehension is that the stock 
will not last out till the fresh fruit comes in. 

Besides, however much the holy mother may have de- 
sired to make a convert of Helen, and have the conversion 
blazoned in the Tablet as a further proof that England was 
rapidly reverting to the only true faith, the express injunc- 
tions of the Abbe Condamine would have been sufficient to 
prevent any steps of the sort. That strange gentleman 



144 WILD OATS. 

entertained the notion that converts were after all but of 
little service, and that they too often looked back with 
regret to the old church they had quitted; and, with his 
heterodox views, I do not see any different opinion he could 
have formed. 

During his visits to Helen, in which he gave her much 
sage advice, though in the gentlest possible voice, the Abbe 
fancied he noticed she was pining for the world, and soon 
drew from her that she felt anxious to gain her own liveli- 
hood, as she could not bear to be a burden on her kind friends. 
With a heavy eigb, doubtless intended for the perversity of 
human nature, the old Abbe went away to look for some 
congenial employment for Helen, and, by dint of indefati- 
gable exertions, soon secured her a post for which she wa9 
admirably adapted. An English reader was required for 
the Princess Bertha of Pumpernickel, and he secured the 
refusal. Helen at first felt timid about taking such an 
exalted post, and had grave apprehensions about her fitness 
to approach royalty ; but the Abbe soon drove such thoughts 
from her mind by telling her that so long as she did her 
duty she would be sure to succeed, and she therefore 
gladly accepted the offer. 

The salary offered was liberal enough — that is, for a 
German court — and looked very large when reckoned in 
florins; but there were stipulations attaching to the office 
which diminished its value. In the table of etiquette sent 
by the first lady of the bed-chamber it was expressly 
stated that Helen must never approach her royal pupil 
except in white kid gloves, and these must not be wor» 
twice ; so Helen, after going into a mental calculation, 
found that very little of her salary would be saved. How- 
ever, as she only wanted a home, and was sick of Paris, she 
was very pleased to go to Giirkenhof, where I will leave her 
for the present, and take up the tangled web of my hero'i 
fortunes. 



GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA. 145 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

A GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA. 

When we last saw Charles Dashwood he was seated in a 
railway carriage, hurrying at full speed (for a continental 
train) to the assistance of his beleaguered Helen. He had 
abundant opportunity for meditation, what with delays for 
inspection of passports and luggage, and I cannot say that 
his thoughts were of the most pleasant nature. Although 
his pride sustained him, and urged upon him that he was in 
the right when he resisted Sir Amyas's offer, there is not 
one among us who can give up £250 per annum in esse 
and £20,000 in posse without a sharp twinge of disap- 
pointment. Still the elasticity of youth buoyed Charles up. 
He fancied it was impossible for his uncle to remain 
inexorable, and that with time he would come round again; 
and if not, well, he could work for his living like other 
people, and no doubt would succeed. 

It never occurred to my young friend, however, that, 
though he might be perfectly willing to work, his education 
had not adapted him for any settled profession. What 
earthly good would his Latin and Greek do him when in 
want of a dinner? He thought at times that he might 
turn usher in a school, so low had he, theoretically, descended 
from the pedestal of his pride ; but he had perused the 
"Vicar of Wakefield," and entertained strong suspicions 
that the habits of the last century, as Noll described them, 
might be strictly referrible to the present day. In short, he 
did not know what to do, and, as the next best thing, he 
did not think at all about the future. He knew that he 
should have to earn his livelihood, but the prospect did not 
terrify him. He had £100 in his pocket and the £5000 
in reserve, and what did he care? 

I do not know whether any of my readers can remember a 
peculiar arrangement on the Belgian line, just beyond Liege, 
by which you used to be pulled up a hill on one side and 
let down on the other by means of ropes. I daresay every 
traveller has speculated on the possibility of the rope break- 
ing, and what would become of the train in that case. 
Well, on Mr. Dashwood's journey the speculation was con- 

L 



146 WILD OATS. 

verted into a certainty. The rope did break, and the train 
rushed backwards down the hill at a furious rate, and 
ended by running off the line and turning head over heels. 
Of course there was the usual amount of shocking accidents, 
and several Belgian peasants were killed, though the account 
published in the State Gazette limited the accident to a few 
broken ribs. But the more important fact to us is that 
Charley broke his leg in the melee, and was laid up for six 
weeks in a Liege hotel. His irritation at the delay pre- 
sented his recovery in some measure, and when he 
started for Paris once more his leg gave him abundant proof, 
by shooting pains, that he must be careful with it. 

He was not long, we may be sure, before he visited 
Madame Leblanc's old apartment, and was horrified at 
learning the awful fate which had befallen her. For a long 
while he could obtain no trace of Helen, and at last only 
succeeded by a reference to the police; but he was just as 
far from his dear girl as ever, even when he had discovered 
her abode ; for the good nuns sedulously denied her being 
there, and, though they allowed she had resided with them 
for awhile, she had left and gone they knew not whither. 
In fact, during this whole time she was lying on a bed of 
sickness, and they were horrified at the idea of a young man 
wishing to see their protegee ; so, on the principle that the 
end justifies the means, they told a deliberate falsehood, for 
which I have no doubt they performed considerable penance. 
The poor creatures fancied, they were acting for the best, as 
they wished to keep Helen's mind free from all sinful 
thoughts, for her recovery was almost despaired of, and the 
consequence of their step was, as usual, that they caused 
her much mental anxiety, and led her to believe that her 
Charles had forgotten her. 

My hero, being now quite his own master, spent his time 
in Paris in a lordly manner, after the fashion of young 
English gentlemen, and I have no doubt amused himself 
greatly ; but I need not allude to more than one adveuture, 
as intimately connected with this history, and which intro- 
duced him into a very new phase of Parisian life ; in other 
words, he formed the acquaintance of some distinguished 
Bohemians. 

Charles had been to the Odeon to see Madame Georges, 
then the wreck of her former self, in her celebrated cha- 
racter of Marguerite in the Tour de Nesle, and felt some 
considerable amusement at a very old woman representing 
the lovely queen. Still there were at times traces of the old 



A GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA. 147 

fire visible, and at last he' forgot the actress in the interest 
of the scene. Now, the Tour de Nesle is not one of the 
most comic of plays, and the idea is thoroughly French; 
so that when Charles left the theatre he felt very thirsty 
from excitement, and turned into an estaminet for some 
limonade gazeuse. 

He noticed three or four blackguard-looking fellows in the 
little room, who fixed their eyes upon him when he en- 
tered, and evidently displayed great interest in his move- 
ments. Like a foolish fellow, brought up to place blind 
confidence in the police, he unbuttoned his coat to see what 
time it was, and displayed a very handsome gold chain. 
After awhile he thought he had better be moving, and walked 
onwards in the direction of the Pont Neuf. 

I do not know what may be the present state of public 
safety in Paris, but I do know that in 1848 the police had 
other matters to attend to than preventing crime, and when- 
ever I went over to pay a visit to some student friends in 
the Quartier Latin I always took care, on returning home, to 
walk down the centre of the bridge with a life preserver 
hanging from my wrist, and gave a very wide berth to the 
statue of Henri IV., behind which some very suspicious 
persons were always lurking. They may have been quite 
respectable beggars, and I might have made an acquaintance 
as interesting as Hauff's Bettlerin du Pont des Arts; but, 
having a most selfish regard for my skin, I preferred to 
pursue such investigations in the daytime, and always drew 
a very deep breath of relief when I left the dangerous bridge 
behind me, and found myself in comparative safety on the 
broad quay. 

But my hero had no thoughts of this nature. He imagined 
Paris as secure by night as by day, and walked along 
gently whistling, and stopping at intervals to enjoy the 
magnificent prospect of the river and city. He fancied 
now and then he heard smothered footsteps behind him ; 
but, on turning and seeing nobody, he laughed at the idea 
and strolled onwards. The consequence was that, when he 
reached the shady recesses of the statue, he felt a hand 
thrown artistically round his neck, and a strong ray of 
light was reflected from a very ugly knife, which just missed 
his shoulder-bone. 

Charley, however, did not for a moment lose his presence 
of mind ; but, giving a tremendous kick backwards, as 
vicious as a horse attacked by wolves, he soon disem- 
barrassed himself of his first assailant, and turned to find 



148 WILD OATS. 

himself attacked by four ruffians. There was not a moment 
to lose if he valued his life, so Charles hit out furiously 
with his left, and soon floored one of the fellows. Planting 
his foot with a stamp right in the centre of his face, he 
then commenced offensive operations on the others ; but 
he soon found that they were more than his match, for his 
injured leg gave way at the critical moment. He felt, too, 
that he had received several flesh wounds, from which the i 
blood was streaming down into his boots, and a nervous 
apprehension that he was losing ground and strength over- 
powered him. Still for all that he did not release the < 
ruffian beneath his foot, whose face he kept on savagely 
pounding with his heel in spite of his cries for mercy. 
Charles would as soon have let a mad dog loose again on 
society. 

Suddenly, when my hero felt that it was all over, and 
that he might prepare for death, assistance came to his 
relief. The ruffians had been so engaged on their victim 
that they had not noticed the approach of a stranger, who, 
however, soon evidenced his presence by the most extra- 
ordinary evolutions with his legs and a big stick. He 
seemed as if moved by a string, like the marionnettes, and 
capered about in the wildest and most effectual tuanner. 
At one second Charles could see his toe artistically inserted 
beneath one fellow's chin, which sent him spinning, and 
the next the stick came across a face. The battle was 
over; the three assassins ran off, and left their accomplice 
in the lurch. 

" Do you think, Monsieur, you are strong enough to 
help me lift this gentleman?" the stranger asked Charley. 

He naturally presumed that his ally intended to hand 
the ruffian over to the police ; but he soon found his mis- 
take. The wretched man was lifted by his legs and arms, 
and, with a vigorous heave, he was sent over the coping of 
the bridge, to be caught in the Morgue nets. 

"There, I think that will save any unpleasantness with 
those scamps of police," the stranger said, with a sweet, con- 
scious smile of duty fulfilled. " But you are wounded, 
Monsieur; pray lean on my arm, and I will take you to my 
room close by. I am a student of medicine, and shall be 
delighted to do you any service." 

Charles, who now began to grow very weak from loss of 
blood, gladly accepted the offer, and walked across the 
bridge supported by his new friend's nervous arm. They 
found a stray fiacre, probably waiting for the ruffians who 



A GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA. 149 

I* ad been so utterly defeated. Into this they mounted, and 
the stranger merely saying, " Golgotha," which the driver 
evidently understood, they drove off. 

Golgotha, alas! no longer exists. It was removed in 
1854, in deference to the emperor's restoratory mania. It 
stood on the site of an old abbey, which had been pulled 
down in the revolution, and the ground sold as national 
property. An old lady had purchased it for a handful of 
assignats, representing about twenty shillings of our cur- 
rency, and she had built on it a vast barrack, which imme- 
diately was invaded by an army of students ; but, though 
the house was let from attic to cellar, Madame did not 
derive much profit from it, for students have a morbid 
objection to paying rent, and declined leaving to make 
room for more regular tenants. The only revenge she 
could take was by never doing any repairs; and Golgotha, 
so called from the number of skulls it contained, at the 
time of which I am writing was in a fearfully dilapidated 
state. There was a tradition attached to the house that 
the tiles had once been repaired at the instigation of an 
attic tenant who really paid his rent, and was regarded 
with intense respect in consequence; but he had to dis- 
play extraordinary resources of mind before he succeeded. 
It was only by digging a hole in the floor, and letting the 
water which entered by the roof drip down on the next 
lodger, that the old lady was induced to lay out a few 
francs, which formed the standing subject of her complaints 
whenever she alluded to her property. 

Golgotha could have told strange tales, if it had liked, 
about the generations of painters who had passed their no- 
vitiate beneath its roof. The great names of the French 
school might be detected on the filthy walls, traced in 
charcoal, to evidence the passage of such men as Geri- 
cault, Eugene Delacroix, and Paul Delaroche. These 
titles of honour were carefully respected by their suc- 
cessors ; and though they might satisfy their artistic 
craving in designing magnificent subjects by means of a 
burnt stick, they never effaced the traditional names which 
gave such renown to Golgotha. 

Among the accredited stories attaching to Golgotha, I 
may mention that the inhabitants amused themselves once 
by painting an immense white dog with tiger stripes, letting 
him loose with a tin kettle tied to his tail, and terrifying 
the whole quarter. On another occasion they turned out 
with Bedouin burnouses and long chibuks, and gravely 



l&O WILD OATS. 

seated themselves on the square of St. Germain-des-Pres, 
to the horror of the faithful who were going to mass. At 
the time I was an habitue of Golgotha merry games and 
high jinks were carried on ; but, alas ! they have been 
done away with entirely by the passion for renovation and 
that brooding insecurity which hangs over Paris, and 
renders all the young men discontented and prematurely 
old. Absit omen ! 

When Charley alighted with his companion at the door- 
way (for there was no porter — he had been long before 
placed on the shelf as a luxury, and, indeed, no one would 
hold the post, to be tormented incessantly by the artists), 
the young student turned with a smile, and said, " I am 
afraid you must be careful in going up ; there are various 
clever mantraps for duns on the stairs, and I fancy Jules, 
my companion, tore up two or three boards to boil his coffee 
with this afternoon. But wait ; I will procure a light." 

And, knocking at the first door, he coolly walked in, 
seized the lamp, and emerged with it, in spite of the voci- 
ferous protestations of the owner. 

Charles, on ascending the stairs, was truly grateful to his 
companion for his forethought, for a stranger to Golgotha 
would infallibly have broken his neck in the dark. The 
walls were decayed and filthy in the extreme, the rain and 
moisture pouring down them in streams, while the banis- 
ters had been broken away in many places, and the 
absent stairs yawned to engulf the daring intruder. How- 
ever, after a long and painful ascent, they reached the sixth 
floor, and Charles was glad to rest from his unwonted 
exertion. 

After my hero had taken off his coat Francois examined 
his wounds, which were numerous, but not at all dangerous, 
and a bountiful ablution, and bandages which the student 
made by tearing up his other shirt, soon furnished him relief. 
Then Charles had an opportunity to look round him at the 
strange scene in which he found himself, and he certainly 
had good reason to feel surprised. It was a spacious room, 
with a sloping roof at either end, and leaving two walls, on 
which Jules could display his artistic efforts. His materials 
appeared restricted to the primitive burnt stick, for there 
was nothing else to reveal that he was an artist. The 
medical student displayed his department of science in an 
interesting collection of grinning skulls, several of them 
wearing a fez, while all had a well-coloured pipe stuck 
between their jaws, which gave them a horribly grotesque 



A GLIMPSE OF BOHEMIA. 151 

aspect. Here and there were scattered thigh hones and 
other pleasing anatomical objects, while one huge bone 
was evidently employed for stirring up the wood fire. 

The furniture was extremely simple, and evidently chosen 
with a strict attention to necessity. It consisted of two 
beds, one in each corner, not particularly cleanly, and bear- 
ing traces that they were converted into sofas during the 
day. There was a. table, too, which had once boasted four 
legs, but one of these was now absent, and its place occu- 
pied by bricks. There were also three chairs, one of them, 
however, being placed so cleverly against the wall that you 
felt certain, if it were moved, it must come down with a 
run. The garderohe, too, was remarkably chaste in its 
design, and strictly practical, for it merely consisted of a 
cord running across the room, and sustaining the working- 
day blouses, which formed the sole change of attire our 
student friends possessed. But, for all that, they were 
extremely happy, and not a sign betrayed Jules' annoyance 
because his chum had been absent so long, and prevented 
his going out by having on the only presentable pair of 
boots. They both looked round with a comical grin when 
they noticed Charles gazing with surprise at the strange 
quarters in which he found himself, and the artist then 
added, — 

" I daresay, Monsieur, your ideas of a studio are sadly 
upset by this truly naked reality; but you must remember I 
am in a state of transition. Besides, the place is very 
healthy, and you enjoy " 

" A magnificent view of across the road," the medical 
student interposed. " Come, come, Jules, you must not try 
to humbug Monsieur. He can read the truth." 

" I try to humbug him ! Surely Monsieur must be aware 
that it is our nature to indulge in blague. However, I must 
confess that the place might be more comfortable, and, had 
my glorious scheme of portrait painting succeeded, I should 
have had a magnificently furnished apartment; but though 
I had selected all the furniture, and spent a week in assort- 
ing the various articles, the rogue of an upholsterer would 
not let me have it without ready money. I explained to 
aim my position, and told him that my scheme of portrait 
painting at ten francs a head would be an infallible success ; 
but he wouldn't listen — perhaps it was all the better for 
him, as the portraits proved a failure." 

"How was that?" asked Charles, considerably amused 
by his new companions. 



152 WILD OAXS. 

" Imagine, Monsieur," said the artist, with a look of comic 
despair. " I had induced the grocer's wife round the corner to 
visit my humble apartment, and had promised to paint her 
en Orecque for only eight francs. My decoy bird was all 
ready, and a vista of success opened before me. Madame 
came punctually, and was already seated, when that villain 
Fredonneau across the passage spoiled all. A knock came 
at the door — I thoughtlessly said Entrez, and in walked a 
nude model, asking if a St. Christopher were not wanted 
here ! Oh, it was my ruin ! But Monsieur is probably 
thirsty." 

And, without awaiting a reply, Jules rushed to a cupboard, 
produced a battered cornopean, and began the most infernal 
tantara-ra out of the door which could be imagined. An 
old man soon made bis appearance, to whom the artist 
merely said, " Beer, slave; fly at once !" 

" But, Monsieur," said the little man, apologetically. 

" Fly — be off at once, I say ! " 

"Will Monsieur kindly give me the money? He will 
remember there was a slight difficulty this morning with 
Madame Ducoste." 

" Son of Satan ! how often have I told thee that a student 
spurns such ignoble means of barter as money ? Tell 
Mftd-ame, however, if she be indisposed to satisfy my legiti- 
mate thirst, that the Vert Gal ant is nearly completed, and 
that it will bring her in countless thousands. All Paris 
will flock to behold my masterpiece, and great will be the 
consumption of beer of March !" 

With an indescribable shrug the little man quitted the 
room; but it seemed that the appeal was successful, for he 
soon returned loaded with bottles, which he deposited on 
the table, and discreetly retired, feeling somewhat alarmed 
at the sight of an upraised skull, which Francis was 
evidently preparing to bring into collision with his own. 

" Yes, Monsieur," Jules said, turning to Charles, " such 
are some of the resources to which high art is compelled to 
fly when it wishes to quench its thirst. Behold here the 
result of my morning's labours." 

And he produced an exquisite painting, a pictorial riddle, 
which Charles was artist enough to see was worth a heca- 
tomb of beer bottles. It represented a glass crowned with 
a garland of laurel leaves, and the calembour was pal- 
pable. 

" But Monsieur must be weakened by his loss of blood," 
said the medical student, " and would be glad to lie down, 



SIMPLE CYMON. 153 

Jules, you must turn into Fredonneau's room to-nigbt, 
while I stop to attend to my guest." 

All Charles's protestations were in vain. One bed was 
given up to him, while Jules took a mattress off the other, 
arid dragged it after him across the corridor. The shouts 
which hailed his appearance proved that his quarrel with 
Fredonneau had not been of a very deadly nature, and 
soon the whole of the house appeared to be bushed in 
sleep. Francois made himself as comfortable as he could 
on the sacking, and meditated hugely as be smoked a pipe, 
while Charles, exhausted by his wounds and the past ad- 
venture, dropped off into a restless sleep, from which he 
was soon aroused by a pistol-shot. 

"Don't be alarmed," Francois said with a benignant 
smile ; " I was only scaring away the rats which were 
invading your bed. As a stranger you might feel annoyed 
by them, or else I should have left them to their devices. 
They must be fools, though, to come here, for there's 
precious little for them to forage. Ha, ha, my friend, 
you 're caught this time ! " he added, as a skull came tumbling 
from the table, and rolled about the ground. " I thought 
that piece of Roquefort would be too powerful for your 
olfactory nerves." 

He picked up the skull, and dragged from it a huge rat, 
which had been caught in this novel trap, and, after quietly 
drawing a knife across its throat, and muttering something 
about dissection and subjects, he fell off to sleep, in which 
Charley was too glad to follow his example. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

SIMPLE CYMON. 



When Charles Dashwood awoke after his restless night in 
Golgotha his wounds felt stiff, and his old enemy, the 
broken leg, gave him incipient warnings of ensuing con- 
finement. Francois, too, on examining his patient, looked 
as grave as a medical student can look, and suggested that 
he should send for further advice. Hence Charles decided 
on returning to his hotel, and, after a hearty parting from 
his new chums, and repeated promises to pay them a visit 
as soon as he got about again, he was carried down the 



154 WILD OATS. 

steep stairs with some difficulty by four men, and conveyed 
at a funereal pace in a fiacre to the Hotel Windsor. 

For several weeks he lay in a very unpleasant position, 
for there is hardly anything so disagreeable as being ill in 
a strange country, with only hired sympathisers around 
you, who smooth your pillow as if calculating how much 
the action is worth, and stint you in your stimulants for 
their own gratification. After awhile, however, the Marquis 
of Lancing found Charles out, and became a constant visitor 
by his bedside. I do not think that his conversation was 
of that peculiarly cheering nature calculated to improve a 
convalescent's health, but Charley picked up wonderfully by 
having some one to talk to who had known his dear 
Helen. 

The Marquis was last from Vienna, where he had left his 
friend Fitz paying strong court and making very real love 
to a Miss Delancy, " a lovely girl," the Marquis remarked, 
"and has ^630, 000, my boy." No wonder that Fitz was 
enamoured with les beaux yeux de sa cassette. If he could 
catch such a girl as that he would be able to carry ou 
for another two years, and by that time he might have suc- 
ceeded his father, Lord Levant. There were only three 
lives between him, and more unlikely things have come to 
pass than such a consummation. 

Charley was delighted, a? you may suppose, at the Mar- 
quis's repeated allusions to the fair Helen, and though the 
young nobleman still limped from his wound, he had the 
manliness to confess that be had deserved worse treatment 
for his conduct toward her. Reflection had led him to doubt 
her love for him, and he very magnanimously recommended 
Charles to go in and win, which my hero had every intention 
of doing so soon as he found where the lady of his love was. 

Charley and his friend also hit up^n a famous plan 
to drive dull care away by playing piquet, a gam6 which 
seems to have been invented for the special behoof 
of persons confined to their bedroom, for I do not think 
those in good health could play it any length of time 
and live. One afternoon while thus engaged a tap came 
to the door, which flew open suddenly, and a very lovely 
young lady made her appearance. She exclaimed, " My 
dearest Charles !" and then suddenly noticing the pre- 
sence of a stranger, a roseate blush suffused her excpaisite 
face. The Marquis rose in great embarrassment, and con- 
trived to upset the table and a bottle of Beaune over his 
legs; and the young lady, lost to all sense of propriety, 



SIMPLE CYMON. 155 

fell back in a chair, and gave way to a hearty burst of 
laughter. 

" My dearest Susan, this is kind of you. I did Hot know 
you were in Paris," said Charles, making a feeble effort to 
rise from his easy chair. " How did you find me out? how 
did you hear of my accident ? " 

The Marquis, in the meantime, felt very much en.bar- 
rassed at his awkward position. Indeed, it is not pleas t at 
to face a stranger, and that stranger a lovely laughing gul 
with your tr — u — rs saturated with Beaune, and feel that 
she is laughing at you, and you cannot blame her for it. 

" Susan, dearest, allow me to introduce you to the Marquis 
of Lancing. He is a very good fellow, although be is s<i 
peculiarly situated just at present. Lancing, let me make 
you known to my sister, Susan Dashwood." 

A low bow from the lady was the only notice she took of 
the introduction, and the Marquis, reckless of the conse- 
quences, seized Charles's dressing gown, in which he strove 
to hide the traces of his accident. At length Susan re- 
covered from her exhausting fit of laughter, and said, — 

" Only guess, my dear boy. I had a letter from Helen 
this morning, dated from Giirkenhof. She is engaged with 
the Princess Bertha, and writes in good spirits. She is very 
anxious to hear from you, and said I might probably find 
you here. The Colonel brought me in his carriage, and, 
when we found you were here and ill, dropped me while he 
went to make some calls. We only arrived yesterday, and 
don't you think I am a good sister for calling on you so 
soon, when I want new bonnets and a hundred other things 
which can only be procured in Paris?" 

After this long tirade Miss Susan kissed her brother very 
affectionately, causing thereby a slight tinge of envy to the 
Marquis, and then continued : — 

" But you have not told me yet about your accident. 
What could you have been about, careless boy, to get your- 
self into such trouble? The Colonel is very vexed with 
you for quarrelling with Sir Amyas, but I have taken your 
part. A likely thing, indeed, that you should be forced into 
marrying a girl you did not love, merely because she had 
money and you wanted it. I asked the Colonel whether he 
intended to try the same compulsion with me ; but the dear 
old man gave me a kiss, and said I might die an old maid 
if I liked. Poor Jane! I wonder if she has got out safely;" 
and a very pretty sigh concluded the speech. 

Charles gave his sister a hurried account of his ad- 



156 WILD OATS. 

ventures, which caused the young lady to go through various 
phases of alarm and admiration, wound up by an expression 
of her opinion that some London police ought to be sent 
out to watch over Englishmen in Paris. When Charley 
ended his harangue by expressing his thanks to the Mar- 
quis for his kindness in sitting with him so constantly, 
Susan turned her magnificent eyes full upon that young 
gentleman, rendering him peculiarly uncomfortable, and 
causing him to wish that he was at the bottom of the sea, 
or anywhere beyond the range of those liquid, laughter- 
beaming eyes. 

But Susan was a good-hearted girl, and any kindness 
shown to her brother struck a responsive chord in her own 
breast ; so she treated the Marquis with extreme amiability, 
and that young gentleman was soon in the seventh heaven 
of delight, Helen's image being rapidly effaced by the flesh, 
and blood incarnation of loveliness which now beamed upon 
him. She was just the girl to suit him ; in fact, he felt 
none of that nervousness to which he had been subject 
when talking with Helen, who was so fond of quoting poetry 
and recommending him to read Elizabeth Browning. Now, 
Susan was a capital girl, who chattered about the opera, 
and regulated her conversation by the range of his ability, 
and so the Marquis soon felt quite at home, and deeply 
regretted the unwelcome announcement that the carriage 
was waiting for Miss Dashwood. However, he handed her 
down the stairs, and hoped to gain an introduction to the 
Colonel. If so, he was sadly disappointed ; for Susan 
jumped lightly in with a hurried good morning, and soon 
forgot, I daresay, that any such being as the Most Noble the 
Marquis of Lancing existed, which very plainly proves 
that she was not of the common run of girls, who are too 
apt to conjure up bright visions at the mere introduction to 
a lord I know two rather good-looking girls, of respectable 
rank in society, who, because they once flirted with a booby 
peer, who was residing with a neighbouring clergyman, 
have looked down on the common clay ever since, and are 
now in a fair way of dying old maids. Something seems 
to tell me that this will not be Susan Dashwood's fate, in 
spite of her protestations. Her beauty was not designed to 
be wasted on pet dogs, nor her good heart to find an outlet 
in merely giving shillings to beggar children. We shall 
see. 

And now that I am beginning to take an interest in 
Miss Susan Dashwood, because I believe she will honestly 



SIMPLE CYMON. 157 

carry out those relations for which women were sent into 
the world, I may as well describe her. She was wonder- 
fully like her brother, with the same classical face, and the 
same proneness to laughter to redeem it; while her eye was 
of the purest sapphire, and you fancied you could see a 
heaven in it. She was anything but thin ; on the con- 
trary, many virgins expressed their amiable pity at her sad 
want of genteel outline; but for that Susan did not care. 
She was, in a word, one of those exquisite creatures whom 
Mr. Leech has immortalised in the pages of Punch, and 
whom we all fall in love with immediately, in our despair of 
ever finding the delicious original. 

It may be assumed, by the way, that, in two or three 
allusions I have made to that much maligned class of " old 
maids," I have evinced an intention to disparage them. 
far be the thought from me. I regard the old " maids of 
merry England " as one of the greatest institutions of my 
beloved country. There may be among my readers some 
young men of the " fast " school. Now, I put it to them, 
how could that fastness be developed on the gubernatorial 
allowance, were it not for the occasional tips bestowed by 
maiden aunts ? Hence I protest, and call on my youthful 
readers of the male sex to join with me in protesting, 
against that vile libel on old maids which once a year dis- 
graces our stationers' windows. The sketch to which I 
allude I will strive to describe in as few words as possible. 
A lady of withered and sour aspect, bearing a strong like- 
ness to a crab-apple crossed in love, is holding up by the 
wings a diminutive and excessively nude Cupid, reminding 
me forcibly of what Tom Thumb must be {minus the wings) 
when entering the bath. In the other hand she wields a 
rod, one blow of which would annihilate the harmless in- 
fant. The background of the picture is occupied by apes, 
parrots, dogs, cats, &c, the popular attributes of old maids. 
At the foot are some verses, which I shall not insult my 
readers by quoting, but which contain more than a passing 
allusion to the employment predestined for old unmarried 
ladies in another and decidedly worse world. 

And while on the subject of valentines let me remark 
that, though our harmless eccentricities may be fair game 
for the valentine concoctors, why on earth cannot some one 
who writes grammar at least be employed on the versifica- 
tion? I generally supposed that a disregard for that use- 
ful element was the ex^usive property of lords ; but I find, 



158 WILD OATS. 

to my sorrow, that authors are trying to place themselves 
on a level with the aristocracy in that respect, although 
they have been so long pining beneath the cold shade. In 
the time of Horace the greatest reverence was due to boys. 
That is no longer possible in our fast age, when no such 
things as boys exist, and the reverence is, therefore, trans- 
ferred to those great luminaries who delight us by their 
poesy; but how can I admire a poet who rhymes "Aurora" 
with "floorer," and indulges in other amenities too nume- 
rous to particularise, as the catalogues say, of the cockney 
poetic school ? 

But this is a sad digression. I only intended to throw 
out a few hints on the subject of old maids for the considera- 
tion of the author of "Things Not Generally Known," and 
I find myself venting my wrath on valentines. Somehow 
the love passages between Susan and the Marquis suggested 
the idea, and I must ask my readers' patience and forbear- 
ance. I will strive not to run off at a tangent in such an 
irresponsible manner for the future ; but the valentine 
nuisance is my bete noir, and I intend to put it down some 
day with all the energy of a Sir Peter Laurie suppressing 
suicide. 

The Marquis revealed an intense admiration for Susan, 
and bored her brother terribly to get well soon, that they 
might go together and call on the Dacres. Charles took 
compassion on him, and regained the use of bis leg rapidly. 
Perhaps his wish to hear something more about Helen 
aided his recovery, but I cannot say. They soon proceeded 
to call on the Colonel, who received them like the true- 
hearted gentleman he was, and asked them to dinner, when 
the Marquis drank in fresh draughts of love with every 
glass of champagne. In short, he was in a very terrible 
way, and the character which Susan had for sarcasm did 
not deter him from paying her the most devoted attention. 

He was his own master now. The Dowager Marchioness 
had a terrific explosion with him, when last in England on 
a hurried visit, because he declined to marry a red-haired 
niece of her own, and was nursing her disappointment in 
building churches and schools, to which the Marquis had 
not the slightest objection, as they naturally advanced the 
value of his property. Land-owners are very well aware of 
this fact, or else we should not have it so frequently trum- 
peted in our papers that Mr. So-and-so has liberally given 
the site for a new church, for which public subscriptions 



SIMPLE CYMON. 159 

are requested. Build a church and a public-house in the 
middle of Salisbury Plain, and you will have a large city 
collected round them within ten years. 

But Charles was not disposed to be always dangling at 
his sister's side. After he had written Helen a long letter, in 
which he did not forget to enumerate the sacrifices he had 
made for her sake, he insisted on the Marquis accompany- 
ing him to Golgotha, and heartily enjoyed the blank looks 
of despair with which he surveyed the walls of that classic 
establishment. Jules and Francois had taken to a new 
profession, at least it seemed so, from their being diligently 
engaged in casting bullets, from which they could hardly be 
drawn by the offer of a dinner at Philippe's. However, they 
eventually assented, and Jules, by borrowing a sovereign to 
buy a pair of boots, completed the amazement with which 
the Marquis regarded the scene. 

I do really think those Paris students are the best fellows 
in the world, although I am not disposed to regard them 
with the same notion of their social value as Mr. Bayle 
St. John has done in his " Purple Tints of Paris." I cer- 
tainly spent a very happy time of my life with Jules and 
Francois ; but I do not think I would prefer going back to 
that system now. We may be all of us more or less 
Bohemians; but if so, I should prefer to pass my Zingaro 
life in a cleaner spot than poor old Golgotha. How strange 
it is, though, that dirt and jollity appear such inseparable 
companions, else the men who now live in our inns of 
court, and certainly are not affected with lowness of spirits, 
would be inclined to have their stairs washed — an opera- 
tion which has not been performed within the memory of 
the oldest laundress. 

In his anxiety to amuse the Marquis, Charles called in 
the aid of the students to show him a portion of the night 
side of Paris. Among other places they visited was the 
Cafe des Aveugles in the Palais Royal, the Marquis smooth- 
ing over the plebeian condescension by expressing a desire 
to study the lower classes. But if he fancied he formed 
any idea of the substrata of Parisian life at the cafe he was 
greatly mistaken, for the seats are covered over with purple 
velvet, as if you were at the Maison Doree, and even 
smoking is prohibited. The blouses took their places by 
the side of their young ladies, and drank tea or coffee, 
while the six blind men composing the orchestra began 
playing. All at once a young man, attired as an Indian, 
spraug up among them, and played the drum in a most 



160 WILD OATS. 

irresponsible manner. He was followed by a ventriloquist, 
who held a lengthened conversation with a doll. Then 
came a boy, whose hair grew half way down his back, who 
held a pompous address to the company. He told them 
how he had been brought from the coast of Africa, and 
owed eternal thanks to the brave captain who had nursed 
him in sickness, and to the brave French nation, who had 
received him with such kindness. Here his memory broke 
down, and he came to a somewhat ignominious conclusion 
by begging some sous. The evening's proceedings termi- 
nated with a vaudeville, performed by six persons on a 
stage not two yards long and one deep. Charles quite 
agreed with the Marquis that they had seen enough of the 
French people as here represented, and they all went off in 
a body to the Salle Valentino to study another and far 
more agreeable phase of French society. 

The Marquis, however, was not led by these amusements 
to neglect Susan Dashwood : he was her constant attendant, 
and I fancy she did treat him a little more mercifully than 
the swarm of young men who buzzed about her. He was 
so harmless, so unassuming, that her heart smote her when 
she was going to say something sarcastic ; but, as the odds 
are he would not have understood her, I do not think she 
need have been so scrupulous. Evidently Susan is growing 
in a fair way to upset all her established theories. Take 
care, young lady ; you must remember that pity is akin to 
love, and the little god may invade your heart subito, whence 
you will not be able to dislodge him. 

I should not like to take on myself to affirm positively 
that the Marquis's ten thousand a year did not throw some 
weight into the scale; for, although Susan was not at all 
the girl to marry a man whom she felt she did not love, 
still the prestige of a marquisate may have had some share 
in enkindling that love, which was with her the sine qua non 
of matrimony. We can, therefore, safely leave her under 
the influence of the master passion to find fresh charms in 
her Theodore, and time will show whether she write herself 
Marchioness of Lancing. What do you say, O my lady 
readers ? 

Helen's retreat was very awkward for my hero, for he 
dared not visit Giirkenhof at present, while his uncle was 
still angry with him, and his hope of seeing Helen must be 
deferred for awhile. Under the circumstances he therefore 
thought it advisable to proceed to London, and look after 
the J65000, the reversion of which he couid, at any rate, 



STMFLE CYMON. 161 

borrow money on in the meanwhile. What he was going to do 
was quite an open question; but the Marquis had promised 
him his influence, and he had a vague idea of accepting some 
government employment so soon as he had amused himself 
sufficiently. But he did not feel any great inclination for 
work at present, not even for that amount which is required 
from a government clerk. A paragraph in the Times also 
quickened his movements, by proving to him that his uncle 
was determined to punish him as far as lay in his power. 
The old bachelor, who had defied matrimony so loDg, had 
at length fallen into the net — he had married Mdlle. Sophie 
Durlacher, Ober hof Sangerin at the Giirkenhof theatre ! and 
he who had so long been the terror of married men was in 
a fair way to experience the sensation himself. 

" Come," thought Charles, " he need not have been so 
particular about Helen being a gambler's daughter. He 
has not looked so very high himself. Well, I wish him joy. 
At the age of sixty-five he has married — to have an heir." 

And, remembering a bitter French sarcasm, Charles grew 
consoled, and did not seriously take to heart this downfall 
of all his hopes. As he thought his .£'5000 would be an 
eternal source for him to draw upon, the loss of a title was 
not of such great consequence. However, as he was 
rapidly approaching years of discretion, he thought his 
presence in England would be desirable, and, at the same 
time, he visited Mr. Fowler's shop diligently, and studied 
the columns of Bell's Life, where so many advertisements 
are weekly addressed to the " Heirs to Entailed Estates," &c. 
The Marquis, it is true, in his hopes of succeeding with 
Helen, would have gladly done anything in his power to 
aid Charley ; but that young man had a natural repugnance 
to accept favours, and, though he had consented to employ 
his friend's influence in procuring himself some government 
employment, I do not think he seriously meant it. Nor did 
he aid the Marquis in ascertaining the real state of Susan's 
heart. He had a shrewd suspicion that the young lady was 
undergoing a considerable struggle with her heart, and any 
iuquiry into her intentions at the present critical moment 
would probably incline the balance against the Marquis. 
As Charley thought it a very good thing for Susan to be so 
comfortably settled, he felt no inclination to throw a chance 
away, and hence the Marquis, much to his terror, was left 
to fight his love battles without an ally. 

But the Marquis's love was certainly having a favourable 
influence over him, and even if he did not succeed in gaining 



](52 'WILD OATS 

Susan's hand, his morals were profiting greatly by the sus- 
pense. He had not paid Mdlle. Coralie a visit for three weeks, 
and when invited to various very pleasant supper parties de- 
clined with the firmness of a stoic. His friends could not 
imagine what was the matter with the Marquis, so great 
was the change that had taken place in him; and when the 
news spread that he had actually been seen at the English 
church, tbey thought it high time to summon Fitz to the 
rescue. 

But the Honourable Captain Fitzspavin had other matters 
to attend to more interesting to himself. Another life had 
fallen in, and there were only two between him and the title. 
This decided the wavering state of Miss Flora's affections, 
and she had consented to become Mrs. Fitzspavin, much to 
that amiable gentleman's delight. He had already insti- 
tuted several ingenious arrangements for buying up his 
turf debts at seven shillings and sixpence in the pound, and 
looked forward with delight to the moment when he could 
revisit England, and become once more the ornament 
of the betting ring. 



CHAPTER XX. 

MARCH, 1848. 



Things were going on with their accustomed lassitude 
at Giirkenhof. Helen had been enjoying comparative 
happiness for some time in the company of the Princess, 
who had taken a great fancy to her, at which I am not at 
all surprised, for none could come into contact with my 
heroine and refrain from loving her. The manners of 
court were so simple and unaffected that Helen soon re- 
covered from her terror, and was surprised to find herself 
talking ere long to a princess with the familiarity of a 
sister. The Grand Duke, too, had honoured Helen with a 
lengthened stare, and took repeated opportunities to con- 
verse with her, and altogether Helen was happy. 

It is possible, however, that the strange scenes which 
preceded Helen's arrival at Giirkenhof had put the court on 
its best behaviour, and rendered Helen so peculiarly at 
home. I mean the events which occurred in March, 1848 ; 
for the good people of Giirkenhof were not an inch behind 



march, 1848. 163 

their other German brethren in making fools of them- 
selves. 

The citizens of Giirkenhof had a habit, which I am sorry 
to say is not peculiar to that residenz, of holding what they 
irreverently term an " eleven o'clock mass" in the various 
beer-houses. And here it was that the first news of the 
French revolution surprised them, as it flashed along the 
wire, to carry confusion and alarm to the uttermost con- 
fines of Germany. For awhile the citizens could hardly 
credit the news. It appeared to them impossible for a 
nation to rise against its monarch ; but when the account 
was confirmed, and the telegraph announced in addition 
that Louis Philippe had fled the capital, the excitement 
was unbounded. Every man suddenly hit on the idea 
that be had some grudge to settle with government, and 
all united in one common feeling that some great change 
must take place ; but what it was to be nobody could take 
upon him to say. 

With the next morning the trains brought in thousands 
of frondeurs to Giirkeuhof, who, in the consciousness of 
newly acquired liberty, besieged the palace and chamber of 
deputies, anxious for they knew not what, and unable to 
embody their trivial complaints in any tangible form. At 
length some enlightened members of the left, foreseeing an 
•opening by which they could attain to power, put them- 
selves at the head of the movement, and a series of resolu- 
tions was drawn up ; while the milliners wore their fingers 
out in forming cockades of the national Schwarz-Roth-Gold, 
which the people mounted with intense pride, regarding 
themselves doubtlessly as tremendous democrats. 

I happened to be in Giirkonhof at this time, and having 
been accustomed to English election mobs, and to fights 
between the blues and the yellows, the scene presented but 
■slight novelty. I spent my time very harmlessly in watch- 
ing the mob which surrounded the palace, and admiring 
the perfect calmness which prevailed. A show of resistance 
to the people had been made by calling out a squadron of 
■dragoons ; but they soon fraternised under the potent in- 
fluences of beer. And it was a very picturesque scene 
which the palace court presented. The houses were draped 
in the national colours, and every flag which the city 
boasted was displayed to enhance the effect; while mob 
orators, mounted on casks or hanging from the lamp-posts, 
harangued the people, and tried to teach them their rights, 
which apparently consisted in keeping the beer-houses 



104 WILD OATS. 

open all night, and enjoying a license to shoot sparrows 
gratis. 

But withiu the palace the scene was very different. Toe 
poor old Duke was paralysed with terror, and trying to faee 
death a la Louis Seize, though lamentably failing in the at- 
tempt, while his daughter hung round him in tears and white 
satin, and would not be pacified. To her, who had been kept 
so sedulously aloof from the people, the worthy bootmakers 
and tailors who were rending the air with shouts for liberty, 
assumed the aspect of so many Marats and Dantons, and 
she hourly expected the upraising of the guillotine and the 
summons to execution. Poor girl! she would not be 
calmed, even by the encouraging offers of the court 
paladins to rush out and clear the courtyard ; and even the 
Count von Eckstein, whom it was rumoured she looked 
upon so favourably, could not now gain a glance of recog- 
nition from her. 

By degrees, however, the Grand Duke regained some 
slight courage, as he found that his very worthless person 
ran no risk of immediate separation from its head, and he 
listened to the advice of his newly constituted ministers, 
who recommended him to promise everything. " The 
gentlemen outside," he said, " were at perfect liberty to do 
as they pleased if they would only let him leave Giir- 
kenhof ;" and, muttering something about the Countess of 
Tulpenhain, he wrapped himself up in a footman's great 
coat, and quitted the palace by a back door, doubtlessly to 
seek comfort from that lady, who, being born of the people, 
felt no terror at its present aspect. 

Some judicious placards were then drawn up and posted 
about the city. The few troops were consigned to bar- 
racks, which order they obeyed as they thought proper, and 
the people had carried out its very bloodless revolution. 
With the concessions a renewed feeling of devotion to 
the Grand Duke was aroused, and he was regarded as the 
father of his country. A body-guard of stout burghers 
voluntarily enrolled themselves to defend the palace from 
invasion, whom the Grand Duke gratefully received, and 
poured out wine for them with his own royal hands. In 
short, the reconciliation was perfect; and, as the police had 
wisely disappeared at the first signal of danger, the beer- 
houses were open all night, and one general intoxication 
itsaugurated the new system. 

When the Grand Duke appeared on the balcony the 
next morning with the national cockade, and addressed his 



march, 1848. 1«5 

faithful people in a loug speech carefully prepared for him, 
and containing any quantity of allusions to free Germany 
and the glorious future, the hopes of the few republicans 
went down to zero; while the people grasped at the hint, 
and were deluded once more by the fallacy of German 
unity. Within a week the whole of Pumpernickel was 
converted into one huge debating club, and the number of 
new papers which started as soon as the censorship was 
abolished was perfectly astounding. So far as German 
coalition was concerned the French republic was sadly 
disappointed. 

Before long a rumour spread among the people, no one 
could tell whence it came, that 30,000 red-trousered gentry 
were assembled on the Rhenish frontier, and were pre- 
pared to carry out the benign principles of revolution. 
Dire was the excitement produced by this rumour, and 
every Puniperaickeler was prepared to die in arms for bis 
beloved country. An armed Biirgerwehr was established, 
to which all flocked, and trade was completely suspended. 
A few weeks more of this and the whole of Giirkenhof 
would have been in the Bankruptcy Court. 

Fortunately, however, the professors of Germany flung 
themselves into the breach, and that amiable farce of the 
Frankfort parliament began. The excitement wore off as 
rapidly as it had begun, and in a very short time no 
stranger could have noticed that Pumpernickel had gone 
through the phases of a revolution. Among the lower 
classes a more decided taste for beer had been developed, 
and the innkeepers regretted very sincerely that there was 
not a revolution a week ; but otherwise people were satis- 
fied, and restricted their movements to watching the inter- 
minable arguments of the windy parliament. 

It was at this interesting period in the history of Pumper- 
nickel that Helen arrived at court, and soon found ample 
employment in persuading the Princess that there was 
really no danger. She explained to her as well as she 
could the scenes of commotion she had herself witnessed 
in England, and the safeguard of our constitution, which 
comforted the Princess, though she could not make head or 
tail of it, and only admired the audacity of a people which 
dared to object to any measure proposed by royalty. How- 
ever, the intimacy waxed apace, and Helen was soon all in 
all with her young pupil, who, I think, began to regard the 
worthy townsfolk as a little less like wild beasts. 



166 



WILD OATS. 



Not long and Germany magnanimously declared war 
against the little kingdom of Denmark, in which, I am glad 
to say, the big bully received a very considerable thrashing. 
However, this is uot any concern of my story, except in so 
far that the Pumpernickel contingent was ordered out to 
fight the Danes. Great was the enthusiasm displayed by 
the populace on this occasion, and, to hear their shouts, you 
would have fancied that they had a tremendous stake in the 
liberation of Holstein. For three days the troops were 
encamped under canvas for the Grand Duke to hold a 
personal inspection, while dinners were given to the officers, 
at which interminable toasts were drunk. 

Even the court could not escape the popular mania, and 
in its gratitude at the fortunate escape it had in March, and 
the occupation given for the restless spirits in fighting the 
Danes, and letting out their hot blood in furtherance of au 
idea, it was decided that the Princess Bertha should give 
the troops a new flag, in which ceremony my Helen acted 
as standard bearer, and a great excitement was created for 
the blonde English girl. 

The Princess certainly looked very well on this occasion, 
clothed in white, and wearing a scarf of the national colours. 
A flush of excitement suffused her usually sallow cheeks 
with a wholesome tinge of red, while the sun sported in her 
magnificent locks as they waved to and fro in the toying 
breeze. I thought her on this occasion one of the prettiest 
German girls I had ever seen, and joined heartily in the 
shouts that greeted her; but when she opened her mouth, 
ye gods, what a disappointment ! It was like that fairy 
princess who dropped toads and other unclean reptiles 
when she opened her lips. Instead of two rows of milky 
teeth, which her Teutonic profile promised, you noticed 
yellow, sadly discoloured teeth — the general curse of German 
women, by the way, owing to their predilection for boiling 
soup and sweets. 

The speech the young Princess held was, of course, 
intensely ridiculous, and stuffed full of allusions to the chime- 
rical unity of Germany. These, however, were received with 
vociferous shouts, and at the conclusion, when she stated 
that the troops would have a ration of beer issued to them 
at her expense in honour of the festival, it seemed as if the 
sky was tumbliug in. Still it was very picturesque to see 
the caps raised on the tops of the bayonets and swaying in 
the air, while young Von Eckstein blushingly received the 



MAECH, 1848. 1G7 

colours from the fair hands of the Princess, and every one 
present joined in a shout to defend them from the enemy 
at any risk. 

Although I have been a somewhat close observer of Ger- 
man revolutions, and have had the misfortune to have been 
mixed up iu one pocket affair, I have not yet been able to 
make up my mind what the people really wanted in 1848. 
Had the land been occupied by an enemy, or any aggression 
threatened, I could have understood the unanimous move- 
ment which ensued on the proclamation of the French 
republic ; but it was quite the contrary case in Germany. 
The people were happy and contented, the mode of govern- 
ment was exactly suited for them, taxation was absurdly 
light, and yet they were not satisfied. The German 
Michel had been roused from his lethargic sleep, and must 
do something to evince his watchfulness. It would have 
been just as absurd to expect any result, had old Frederick 
Rothbart wakened from his sleep at Kyffhausen, and pulled 
off with a start a huge portion of that russet beard which is 
supposed to have grown through, the table. One thing was 
just as probable as the other. 

The failure of the Frankfort parliament was the result of 
two very simple elements working antagonistically, while 
apparently most in harmony : the professors were before 
their age, the people behind it. At the same time the rulers 
were banded together more strongly than ever in the defence 
of tlieir mutual interests, and if they seemed to recoil it was 
only pour mieux sauter when the chance was offered them. 
Still it was pitiable to see the blood shed at Vienna and 
Berlin for no earthly object, and the return of Germany to 
those principles which were inaugurated by the Congress of 
Vienna has proved that the nation was not ripe for a 
sbange. 

And this change will never take place. The men who 

e~e fitted to cope with despots have left their country in 
dfsgust, and have wandered to America, where they have 
Iiad 'license presented to them under the holy garb of 
Liberty. The consequences of 1848 may now be seen in 
Hanover and Hesse Cassel, where an autocratic government 
has trampled the last trace of freedom under foot, and the 
people are tranquil under the points of bayonets, and before 
the gaping mouths of twelve-pounders. But I fancy these 
ideas are not adapted for a novel. I only hope my readers 
will excuse them as my notions on a subject which is still 
involved in considerable mystery. 



168 WILD OATS. 

The troops quitted Giirkenhof for the seat of war, move 
or less in a state of beei-, I am afraid, from the copious 
libations they had poured out with the citizens, and the 
residenz soon reverted to its pristine somnolency. But to 
Helen the Fahnen Weihe proved a source of much annoy- 
ance, for the Grand Duke took it into his transparent head 
that my heroine was a remarkably pretty girl, and felt angry 
with himself that he bad not discovered it sooner. He had 
nothing on hand just at present, having grown tired of his 
last favourite, the Amalie, and was prepared to open 
negotiations for a successor. With these views he showed 
Helen the light of his countenance, and paid very frequent 
and lengthened visits to the Princess Bertha's suite of 
apartments. 

At first the Grand Duke confined his attention to com- 
pliment, and that was endurable; but after awhile he 
began to grow very demonstrative, which Helen did not at 
all like, and gave her distinctly to understand that it only 
depended on herself to assume the place vacant vice the 
Amalie, who was superseded. This was the most difficult 
position in which Helen had been yet placed, for it is 
extremely awkward to have to refuse the requests of royalty, 
and morality stands but a poor chance against the sic nolo, 
sicjubeo of an autocrat, even if he be only of pocket size like 
the Grand Duke. 

It was hopeless, too, for Helen to appeal to the Princess ; 
for that young lady, though good-hearted and kind, had 
very queer notions about morality, which grieved Helen, I 
fancy, even more than the persecutions of the old gentleman. 
The Princess was perfectly well aware that there were cer- 
tain things she must do, others she must avoid; but no 
principle of religion actuated either course of action. Things 
which a princess could not do without scandal were per- 
missible to a bourgeoise, and vice versa. She had a notion, 
not peculiar to royalty alone, I am afraid, that the great sin 
of any action consisted in detection, and that, so long as the 
proper convenances were observed, all went well. Hence, 
when Helen gently hinted at the impropriety of the Grand 
Duke paying such lengthened visits to them during the 
hours devoted to study, she merely laughed, and said her 
papa was growing very affectionate in his old age, and that, 
if Helen played her cards well, much ultimate profit would 
accrue to her. She had not the slightest notion that Helen 
regarded the Grand Ducal attentions in any other light than 
an honour, and I cannot see how she can be blamed, when we 



march, 1848. 169 

remember there was not a lady at court who would not have 
leaped to exchange places and opportunities with Helen. 

At present fortune smiled most affably on the Grand 
Duke. On all sides he had scattered his enemies and made 
them fall. All the Hotspurs of Pumpernickel had volun- 
teered iuto the free corps which had been formed to liberate 
Schleswig Holstein, and the army of spies, which had cost 
the treasury a heavy sum, was disbanded. It is not to be sup- 
posed, therefore, that he felt inclined to let a girl conquer 
him, and he pressed the siege of the fair Helen, regardless 
of the commotion which her enlevement might produce. 
After repeated protestations to the Princess, and hints that 
she would be compelled to leave Giirkenhof, Helen induced 
her pupil to interfere. Of course 6he could not make her 
understand that English girls were averse from propositions, 
however exalted the position of the proposer might be, if 
there were a tinge of dishonour about them ; so Helen was 
thankful to find that the Princess was willing to take her 
part, and did not stop to inquire into the motives that 
impelled her to action. But the remedy was only transient, 
and at last, when Helen began to complain again, the 
Princess, wearied of her importunities, said, — 

"Well, Helen, I think the remedy's in your own hands 
if you like to employ it. Go and give the Countess of 
Tulpenhaiu a hint of your persecution, as you choose to 
call it, and I daresay she will keep papa in order for the 
future." 

The alternative was very painful, for the character the 
Countess bore had urged Helen to avoid all intercourse 
with her, but there was nothing else to be done; so my 
heroine took her heart in both hands, and determined to 
visit the lady and see what could be done. The next day, 
then, after a very unpleasant scene with the Grand Duke, 
who even pursued her into her private apartments under 
the influence of champagne and the news that the Pumper- 
nickel volunteers had been cut off to a man, she went to 
the Rosenberg, the Countess's palace, and sent in her name, 
with a request that she might be allowed to speak with her 
ladyship in private. 

On entering the salon Helen found the Countess reclining 
lazily in a fauteuil, and laughing heartily at some anec- 
dotes the Baron von Strudehvitz was telling her. She 
indulged in a bold stare at Helen, after the fashion of great 
people, and, saying she would attend to her presently, went 
on, with her conversation. 



170 WILD OATS. 

•' So the Amalie is about to leave 113, Baron ?" 

"Yes; she says she has played double or quits with Sir 
Dashwood, and won the game ; so she intends to retire 
lrom the stage, after taking a benefit at every German 
theatre which will lend her its assistance." 

" Poor Sir Dashwood ! It was a bitter blow for his pride. 
I felt very sorry for him ; but, my dear Baron, one woman 
is enough to conquer any man. When two combine, espe- 
cially such two as the Durlacher and Amalie, the result is 
certain. But Prince Hugo played his cards well. Only to 
think that we none of us knew on what terms he stood 
with the Durlacher, and that it was through him she came 
here." 

"And that Amalie should detect a secret," the Baron 
added, " which gave her such a magnificent opportunity to 
be revenged on his Excellency! and all the while she pre 
tended to hate the Durlacher, and threatened to poison her. 
Ha, ha, ha!" 

" Still I cannot understand how Sir Dashwood allowed 
himself to be deceived." 

" Oh ! it was his iniquitous pride as usual. He had 
boasted that the Durlacher should be his, and, when he 
found he could not keep his word otherwise, he offered to 
marry her, which, you may naturally suppose, she gladly 
accepted." 

" But it was too bad of Amalie to affioher the sad affair 
in the way she did. To let all Gurkenhof know that the 
Durlacher was so intimately acquainted with Prince Hugo 
was scandalous. The Grand Duke was very angry at the 
insult offered his Excellency, and, indeed, wished to send 
Prince Hugo into honourable exile for not coming forward 
and preventing the scheme ; but Sir Dashwood thought 
there had been sufficient notoriety, and begged him to hush 
the matter up. And now he'll have a child soon: if it 
prove a boy it will materially injure that nephew of his, a 
very fine young man, who really was the least awkward 
Englishman I have seen." 

[My readers can imagine how Helen lifted up her ears at 
this remark ; but listeners hear no good of themselves is 
an old story.] 

" Ha, what a fool he was not to marry Mi.=s Flora, but 
run off to Paris after some low English girl ! We all thought 
it would be a match, for he seemed to love Miss Delancy, 
when, poof, he was gone without a word. Strange people 
the English ! " 



MAKCH, 181S.- 171 

" Wei!, Baron, I must not keep you longer; this young 
person wishes to speak to me." 

The Baron, therefore, applied hi9 lips gallantly to the 
Countess's plump hand, and, after a lengthened stare at 
Helen, quitted the room. No sooner was he gone tha^ 
Helen with great hesitation informed the Countess of the 
reason of her visit. That lady seemed much struck with 
the story, and could hardly credit but that Helen had some 
motive in the background, for she could not imagine any 
woman would throw such a chance away. A careful perusal 
of Helen's blushing, bonest face satisfied her, however, of 
the innocence of her motives, and she speedily relaxed. 

" My dear child, you have done me a great service," the 
Countess said, drawing Helen toward her, and kissing her 
on the forehead ; " and, believe me, I will not prove un- 
grateful. I will protect you from any further annoyance, 
and to-morrow will take my husband on a progress through 
the country, and keep him away till he has forgotten you, 
though I am afraid that will be a difficult task " 

" His Excellency the English Ambassador," a gorgeous 
footman interrupted the lady by announcing. 

" Hah, Sir Dashwood, you are come in season to be 
witness to an instance of unexampled virtue. Your fair 
countrywoman, Miss Mowbray, has just been complaining 
to me that my volage of a duke has been honouring her 
with his attentions, which she has the bad taste not to 
appreciate. Tell me, how shall I reward her? But stay, 
yoa other English will accept no reward for doing your duty 
simply, hein ?" 

Sir Amyas looked fixedly on Helen, who regarded him 
with equal interest as the uncle of her Charles; then he 
sighed heavily, and muttering, "Not like her mother," sank 
moodily into a chair. Still he watched Helen closely, aud 
even drew her into conversation, eagerly devouring everj- 
word that fell from her lips. 

Sir Amyas had become the ghost of his former self; hi? 
head was bowed, and he could not endure the notion that 
the finger of scorn was pointed at him. Lady Dashwood 
resided in his palace, but in separate apartments, and he 
treated her with the greatest politeness, though no persuasion 
would induce hira to see her. His pride had suffered a 
fearful blow, and the consciousness that his punishment 
was too well merited gnawed at his vitals, and rendered him 
truly an object of pity. 

From this time forth Sir Amyas displayed a great desire 



172 WILD OATS. 

for Helen's company, and, though the court ladies sneered 
openly, and expressed their opinion that Sir Amyas was 
striving to console himself for the defection of his wife, 
Helen gladly welcomed him, in the hope that his growing 
fondness for her might eventually induce him to rescind his 
judgment about her dear Charles. 



CHAPTER XXL 

THE SPIDER AND THE FLY. 



I left Mr. Charles Dashwood revolving in his mind tin 
various advantageous offers held out to young men b; 
benevolent capitalists through the columns of Bell's Lift 
Imagine him, then, fully stocked with addresses, and settle* 
in a second floor of Jerrayn Street, prepared to solicit iutei 
views from some of the individuals on whom his power ti 
procure money apparently depended. He was as far as eve 
from any decision as to the profession he should select, fo 
the attraction which money eo easily to be procured pos 
sessed for him entirely drove from his mind any apprehen 
sion of that mauvais quart d'heure when we have t 
appreciate the truth of the old adage, — 

" When house and land and fortune 's spent, 
Then learning is most excellent." 

My hero, as may be supposed, had not to wait long unti 
he received answers to his applications. In fact, he wa 
rather troubled by an embarras of benefactors, who a] 
desired to offer him their services. Jermyn Street wa 
invaded on that morning by an army of touts, who certainl' 
did not realise the general idea entertained of capitalist! 
or, at any rate, they had attained that exalted position b 
spurning their tailors. They were generally a seedy am 
woe-begone lot, looking much as if they had seen bette 
days, and even those who had any pretensions to the attii 
which is flatteringly supposed to make the gent of tin 
present day bore evident traces of Moses. They were 
however, all unanimous in their story — there would not to 
the slightest difficulty in Mr. Dashwood obtaining mone 1 
on his reversion; and that young gentleman at lengtl 
decided on intrusting the matter to an attorney among tin 



IHE SPIDEK AND THE FLY. 173- 

number, by which he would probably save legal expenses, 
or at least hoped so. 

Weeks rolled on, however, and still the business was not 
settled, and Mr. Dashwood at length made up his mind 
that he would not return to Oxford, for the fall from the 
silk gown was too much for his pride. A twinge now and 
then affected him when he thought of his bills; but, of 
course, they would be paid out of the proceeds of the rever- 
sion, or, if not, they were so exorbitant that the fellows 
oould afford to wait. At length, however, Mr. Dashwood's 
purse began to run low, and, being naturally prone to the 
enjoyment of London amusements, he could not endure the 
idea of secluding himself in his apartments, until the money 
was procured for him. Hence he determined on looking 
up his legal friend, and seeing what had prevented his 
advancing the money. 

It was not very easy, however, to carry out this design, 
for, on going to the address given him by Mr. Sharpe, he 
found it was a low public-house in ihe vicinity of the In- 
solvent Court. For awhile all his inquiries were answered 
by a stolid " He only comes here for his letters, and we don't 
know where he lives;" but, having at last impressed the 
landlord with the idea that he had called on legal business, 
and, moreover, not looking like a bailiff, Charles was directed 
to a neighbouring street, where Mr. Sharpe's office was. 

A battered brass plate alone indicated that an attorney 
resided in the mansion, otherwise it seemed given up to- 
dirty children and still dirtier mothers. A strong smell of 
gin assailed the intruder, mixed with red herrings and fried 
fish, and Mr. Dashwood certainly thought it a strange abode 
for a capitalist and gentleman by act of parliament. How- 
ever, he went up to the first floor, and found Mr. Sharpe 
actively engaged in smoking a short pipe and making out 
a bill of costs, both of which seemed to afford him equal 
satisfaction. 

On Charles's entrance Mr. Sharpe jumped up with as near 
an approach to ablush as ever suffused that gentleman's 
tawny cheek, and sedulously wiped a chair with his pocket- 
handkerchief. He then tried to smuggle away a suspicious- 
looking bottle which stood on the mantel-piece, but, being 
unsuccessful, hinted it was ink, and prepared to open the 
conference. 

" I was going to write to you today, Mr. Dashwood," 
he commenced. " I am happy to say I have procured you 
the money, and was about to make an appointment with 



174 WILD OATS. 

you. Money happens to be very tight just at present, and 
there has been some difficulty in the way. However, the 
Cormorant Insurance Office is prepared to advance the 
money, and you will be able to procure £1000 on your 
reversion." 

"That seems very little, Mr. Sharpe. I understood, too, 
that you were to advance the money yourself when I 
entered into negotiations with, you." 

" yes ! but you see my money is all locked up just at 
present, and I think you will be satisfied with the Cor- 
morant. They will treat you fairly enough ; you will 
only have to pay seven per cent., and need not insure your 
life." 

" Well, I do not care where the money comes from so 
long as I have it; but I cannot wait any longer, and must 
have it soon." 

" Oh, dear me ! you needn't feel at all alarmed ; if you will 
meet me to-morrow we can settle the matter immediately. 
But there is no difficulty in procuring you some money at 
once if you like. If you will accept a bill at three months 
I can get it discounted for you cheap." 

" Well, I hardly think that is necessary, as you say the 
business with the Cormorant will be settled so soon. I can 
wait a fortnight or so." 

"Hem, hem!" said the little lawyer. "Well, you see, 
these matters are not settled so easily; £1000 is so small 
a sum that the Cormorant won't put itself out of the way. 
Lord bless you ! it was only last week they advanced 
£70,000 to Lord Methuselah : they 're wonderful rich." 

And the lawyer involuntarily took off his hat, as if lost 
in respect at the mere mention of so large a sum. A com- 
pany which can lend £70,000 at one pull cannot fail being 
highly respectable. 

" Suppose, then, I took advantage of your offer, Mr. 
Sharpe," Charles said, " how long would it want to get this 
£100 bill discounted?" 

" Oh ! not half an hour. If you will come with me I 
will see if my friend is at home, and, if so, the business 
can be settled at once. Excuse me while I change my 
coat." 

And the lawyer dived into a small cupboard, in which 
Charles could catch a glimpse of a very dirty-looking bed. 
" My clerk sleeps there to take care of the office," Mr. 
Sharpe said, apologetically; but he seemed evidently at home 
in the cupboard himself by the clever manner in which he 



THE Sl'IDER AND THE FLY. 175 

avoided barking his shins against the bedposts and boxes 
which cumbered it. 

On emerging from the filthy street Charles had more and 
more reason to feel surprised at the peculiar ways of 
capitalists, and to exclaim, " Argent, ou diabie veux-tu te 
nicher?" for Mr. Sharpe's discounting friend kept a marine 
store for the amusement of his leisure hours. Through 
piles of rags, bones, and old iron they forced their way to 
the inner sanctuary, where Mr. Nathan was introduced in 
due form to Charles, as a gentleman in the habit of accom- 
modating young men of property or prospects. 

The business was speedily introduced, and Mr. Nathan ex- 
pressed his readiness to discount a bill of three months at the 
moderate rate of thirty-five per cent, to which Charks like 
a fool consented. As I said before, he was utterly ignorant 
of the value of money, having never yet had to work for it, 
aud £35 appeared to him a very trifling amount to throw 
away : he had often spent as much in one night. The 
business thus far arranged, Mr. Sharpe and himself drove 
off in a cab to the nearest police office, where the latter 
swore to the truth of an affidavit Mr. Sharpe hurriedly 
drew up, and, in a few moments after, Mr. Dashwood was 
richer by £66, poorer by the first mortgage on his property. 
Mr. Sharpe had a few hurried words of conversation with 
Mr. Nathan, which caused the chinking of some coin, and 
then he parted from his client, with an agreement to meet 
him the next morning at the Cormorant. 

In a solemn, quiet, and highly respectable West End 
street was that highly respectable office situated, fhich 
took upon itself to alleviate the monetary cares of joung 
men. The very clerks afforded a guarantee of its respecta- 
bility. It seemed a standing rule that they must be all 
short-sighted, and all wore, in consequence, gold spectacles — 
whether supplied by the office I cannot say. The manager, 
Mr. Aminadab Amos, departed from this rule. He was the 
very best of fellows, and much given to speaking of lords in 
an offhand manner, and thereby impressed ou his hearers a 
vast opinion of the office, which was managed by a gentle- 
man hand in glove with the nobility. His turnout was 
irreproachable. A mail cart, drawn by two dashing greys, 
was always standing at the door of the office, prepared to 
carry the great man to interviews with the aristocracy, and, 
after business hours, enable him to show himself in the 
ring, and bow condescendingly to his clients. He had a 
very fine estate in Kent, supposed in the office to have been 



176 WILD OATS. 

the proceeds of some successful mortgage, and altogether 
he ranked high in that social sphere where gentility is 
gauged by the power to keep a gig. In this respect Mr. 
Amos was far superior to the illustrious Mr. Thurtell. 

It is a pity that with all these adveutitious aids Mr. 
Amos's personal appearance was so sadly against him. 
In spite of yourself you could not dispel the idea, on first 
seeing him, that he had offered you mauy-bladed knives at 
the White Horse Cellars during the stage-coach regime. 
His face was of the true Caucasian type, strongly marked 
with Christian pimples as proofs of high feeding, while 
deep pock-marks seemed so many pitfalls for unwary flies. 
In his manner he was a cross between the Jew pedlar and 
the prize-fighter, uniting the chicanery of the one with the 
brutality of the other, and you felt sure that he would be 
as dangerous an enemy as he could prove an unpleasant 
friend. 

His language was made up of very strong expressions, 
picked up at second-hand from his aristocratic clients, and 
his own innate vulgarity, which he succeeded in combining 
by vowing uncompromising hostility against bis h's. 
In short, he was a low fellow, who could cajole and bully 
by turns, and hence the very best man the Cormorant could 
have to manage its intricate and somewhat discreditable 
transactions. 

As Louis XIV liked to sr.y, " L'elat, c'est moi," so Mr. 
Amos would have been quite justified in regarding the 
company as himself. It is true there was a published 
board of directors, principally consisting of retired butlers 
and tradesmen, who intrusted the sole management of the 
office to Mr. Amos, and rubbed their hands at the division 
of profits, without caring to ask whence they were derived; 
but they were thorough dummies, only loo glad to see 
themselves in print with an esquire tacked to their ignoble 
names. The board represented the shareholders, and alto- 
gether the office was a snug little concern, dividing large 
profits, and ready to lend any quantity of money for a con- 
sideration. Such was the company and such the manager 
with whom it was Charles Dashwood's fate to be linked. 

The interview with Mr. Amos, when that dignitary per- 
mitted Charles and the lawyer to approach his august pre- 
sence, after keeping them an hour waiting, was very satis- 
factory. The money was ready so soon as the requisite 
deeds could be drawn up, and if Mr. Dashwood would call 
again in a week, why, yes, they would probably have the 



THE SPIDER AND THE FI.Y. 177 

papers in readiness. In the meantime, if the office required 
Lis presence, they would oommunieate with him through. 
Mr. Sharpe, and the conference was over. Charles quitted 
the office, I trust, with an increased reverence for money; 
and, indeed, he ought to have been willing to fall down and 
worship before Mammon, when he saw the sacred nimbus 
with which it surrounded such men as Mr. Atuiuudab 
Amos. Mr. Sharpe thence proceeded to Doctors' Commons 
to procure a copy of Sir Amyas's will ; while Charles, feel- 
ing somewhat elated by the near termination of his trouble- 
some business, walked up and down Regent Street, and 
selected from the shop windows various articles he in- 
tended to purchase, as absolutely necessary for his station in 
society. 

While lounging about, and half undecided whether he 
should not turn into Verey's and indulge in lunch, Charles 
suddenly heard himself hailed. He looked round and 
could only see a huge, high-stepping horse, which seemed 
amiably preparing to plant its forepaws oq his shoulders. 
On moving a little on one side he, however, recognised the 
Marquis, who bade him jump in, for he had lots to talk to 
him about and no time to waste. 

" Only think, Charley, I have just been offered the em- 
bassy to Timbuktu — a splendid appointment — and have a 
great mind to accept it. But, hang it! I can't get Susan 
to say yes or no — whether she'll have me, I mean — and 1 
am quite determined not to go without her. Oh, dear me ! 
what shall I do? Won't you take pity on an unfortunate 
Marquis, who can't induce his young woman to say yes at 
once?" 

" My dear Lancing, I told you before that it's an awkward 
matter for me to interfere in — between the tree and the 
bark — you know the French proverb. But I can't think 
Susan can be blind to your transcendent merits, and when 
she knows you are making up your mind to leave Eugland, 
she may say yes, if you press her." 

" Ah ! you don't know, Charley, what trouble I have had 
with her. She had only to say the word, and we should have 
been married a month ago. It's doosid hard on a young 
man with ten thousand a year that he can't marry when he 
pleases; but I 'm hanged if I don't take the embassy, and 
if she won't have me then, I '11 go away and try to forget 
her; so now I'll be off to Mastodon Square, aud tempt my 
luck for the last time. I won't ask you to come with me; 
but mind and dine with me to-night at Limmer's. Ta ta." 

H 



178 



WILD OATS 



And the Marquis touched up the high-spirited horse, and 
swung round a corner in a style that threatened immediate 
demolition to a lamp-post. 

It was quite correct; the Marquis of Lancing had been 
offered the important embassy to Timbuktu. Some very 
valuable trade questions were at stake, which could only be 
regulated by the presence of an English envoy; and, of 
course, the Marquis, as a born legislator, was the right man 
for the right place. It is true he could just manage to 
write a letter in a great schoolboy hand, with sufficient 
grammatical faults to pluck him in any competitive exa- 
mination ; but he would have plenty of persons to attend to 
his spelling, and the fine old English traditions would be 
maintained in their pristine splendour. I am glad to say 
that no bitterness surged up from the central fount of his 
pleasure. Susan did not prove hard-hearted ; in fact, she 
would not have been a woman if she had resisted the com- 
bined influences of a title and an embassy, and the Morn- 
ing Post soon devoted a paragraph to the announcement of 
an approaching marriage in high life. 

It might be assumed that Charles, in the consciousness 
of this new connection, might have rested very safely on his 
oars, and trusted to bis new brother-in-law to provide for 
him. I am sorry to say, however, that my hero was a 
strange medley of bad and good ; and, while guilty of grave 
faults, he had sufficient pride not to take advantage of 
adventitious circumstances to promote his own interests. 
As soon as his sister became a marchioness he felt that 
there ought to be a great gulf fixed between her and poor rela- 
tions, in order that her husband might never have a chance 
to reproach her with having married her family as well as 
herself. Hence he was very glad that they were to leave 
England at once, and by the time they returned his own 
fate would be decided. Either he would have secured a 
position in which Susan need not blush to recognise him, 
or he would have disappeared from the stage altogether. I 
am inclined to think the latter the more likely issue. 

The business at the insurance office was soon arranged, 
and within three weeks Mr. Charles Dashwood was intro- 
duced by the polite Mr. Amos to an elderly lady, who was 
prepared to lend him ^£1000 for an annuity of £10 per 
annum, to be paid her quarterly. Mr. Sharpe expressed 
his satisfaction with the deeds drawn up by the office, 
stating that they were all in order, and nothing remained to 
do but sign, seal, and deliver. But I am wrong there; a 



THE srtDEK AND THE JXY. 179 

trifle to pay still remained in the shape of £90 to the 
highly respectable office for deeds, &c. This made a very- 
respectable hole in the =£1000, and to this must be added 
£80 to Mr. Sharpe, £30 being for costs between attorney 
and client, and £50 being five per cent, commission for pro- 
curing the money. Add to this the £100 bill to take up, 
and Charley was left in the possession of the magnificent 
sum of £730 to represent a mortgage of .£1000 and the in- 
terest thereupon. I wonder whether my friend is begin- 
ning yet to appreciate the true value of money? I am 
afraid not by the way in which he set about spending the 
surplus. 

In the first place Charles was fool enough to lay out nearly 
£200 in a set of topazes, as a wedding present for his 
sister, whose husband could have given her twenty such 
sets without inconveniencing himself; but it appears the 
rule in polite society that, when a daughter marries into a 
high position, her family must distress themselves for a 
long while by the disproportionate presents they make her 
as a reward for her good conduct. Then there came the 
acquisition of those expensive nicknacks which Charley 
thought indispensable for his comfort, and the purchase of 
the furniture of a very snug set of bachelor chambers in 
Piccadilly; so I do not feel surprised that the inexhaustible 
sum soon dwindled down to £250, which, however, Charles 
thought ample to carry on the war with till that something 
turned up on which he built. 

However, he had the intense gratification of being pre- 
sent at St. George's when the charming Susan was con- 
verted into the still more charming marchioness (for money 
and position add a thousand new charms to the loveliest 
girl), and the satisfaction of proposing the bridegroom's 
health at the breakfast in a neat and appropriate speech. 
He also was most politely received by several mothers of 
families, who thought law an excellent parti as brother-in- 
law to a marquis, and altogether my young friend was in 
the seventh heaven. He had not the least doubt of suc- 
cess, and was rather pleased that the Marquis was to start 
so soon on his embassy, as it would give him the oppor- 
tunity of carving out independence for himself. 

In the meanwhile I very much regret to say that he de- 
scended into the character of a " man about town," and 
the worst phase of his existence commenced. If Charles 
eventually emerge from the dangers which beset him, he 
6tands a good prospect of recovering lost ground; but the 



380 WILD OATS. 

ordeal he will pass through is very scorching, and be runs 
a risk of being utterly consumed, instead of being purified 
by the fire. 

I had at first thought it would be advisable to pass over 
this stormy period in silence, and leave my readers to guess 
for themselves what befell my hero ; but, on the other 
hand, the lesson may be a useful one, for I am heart-sick 
at the thought that Charles Dashwood's follies are no 
creation, but are exhibited daily around us. If you desire 
to know in what they terminate, search the annals of the 
Insolvent Court as published in the Times, and you will 
find countless instances of young men, possessed of bright 
prospects, who may date their ruin from their first in- 
troduction to such highly respectable offices as the Cor- 
morant. 



CHAPTER XXir. 

NOCTES LOKDINENSKS. 



How many a worthy lady really believes the story told her 
by her husband, and fancies that he has been detained at 
the " House" till long past canonical hours, when, in all 
probability, he has been visiting the Hay market, and drinking 
every sort of villanous compound at night-houses. It is very 
easy for elderly Indies to rail about the vices of Paris, and 
regard that amusing city as an earthly pandemonium ; but 
■were Exeter Hall to know one half of the vice that goes on 
in London between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. it would 
hold up its hands in pious horror, or, at any rate, take some 
steps to remove the beam from its own eye before it cavilled 
at its neighbour's wickedness. 

England is essentially the home of hypocrisy. We are 
brought from our youth up to fear what Mrs. Grundy will 
say, and, though we are not one whit behind our continental 
neighbours in vice, we conceal it so closely that superficial 
observers believe in the whiteness of the sepulchre. This is 
seen in a thousand instances. In France a man goes on 
Sunday to enjoy the fresh air, and for that Exeter Hall 
says he is damned, but declines to say what will be the 
final stage of our artisans who go to church in the morning, 
in obedience to prescription and to keep their customers, 



N0CTES LONDINENSES. 181 

while they get very drunk at home in the afternoon. Our 
rule of faith may be summed up as de non apparentibus et 
de non existentibus eadem est ratio, that is to say, so long as 
a man gets drunk without showing it, he is one of the 
steadiest men going. By this system we certainly grow an 
admirable crop of hypocrisy, but whether the nation will 
eventually benefit by it remains to be seen. 

I do not wish to say one word against religion. Far be 
it from me to try and assail a system which has been found 
to work so well for the maintenance of order ; but I do say 
that mere going to church should not be regarded as plenary 
absolution for sins, nor that I should be looked upon as an 
outer heathen if I prefer to read my Bible at home, instead 
of enduring for two hours the nasal twang of Mr. M'Phun- 
gus. 

It is the same in everything. Mr. Jones will take his 
wife to the opera, and when it is over hand her to her car- 
riage, while he goes to amuse himself with the brilliant, 
though somewhat improper, characters who throng the Hay- 
market at night. Then, polluted by the contact, he goes 
home, and passes off to the world as a model husband. It 
is rather hard on the wife, though, for her conversation 
cannot be expected to have that piquancy to which Mr. 
Jones has grown accustomed by his night researches, and 
he begins to find home slow. His club is the scapegoat 
for repeated absences, and at length, one fine day, he 
appears in the Gazette. The unhappy wife has to undergo 
all the misery of the position, to which the husband's 
brutality is too often superadded, and dies of a broken 
heart, while Mr. Jones passes universally for a good man 
and a Christian ; for did he not go to church regularly on 
Sundays, and give tithes of all he possessed — at his 
creditors' expense ? 

If Charles Dashwood found any time to think during his 
short existence as a man about town, this anomaly would 
have struck him ; and he would not probably have been on 
such friendly terms with Fitzspavin, when he met him at 
the various night-houses, if he had remembered that gentle- 
man's new-married wife was pining at home neglected and 
outraged. I do not say that Fitzspavin had married her 
from love ; I do not think he was ever capable of so exalted 
and ennobling a feeling, although Flora possessed a degree 
ef beauty for which some men would have gone mad; but 
Fitzspavin's heart was only just large enough for one, that 
one being himself, and he soon grew tired of being aux 



182 WILD OATS. 

petits soins with his wife. Flora, like a loving fool as she 
was, had spurned the judicious advice of her mother to have 
her fortune settled on herself. She trusted to the generosity 
of the man who had vowed to protect her, and was now 
reaping the consequences. Three months' wedded life had 
amply satisfied the Honourable Captain, and he reverted to 
that company in which he felt most at home, and for which 
every opportunity was afforded him in the purlieus of the 
West End. 

Charley, light-minded and careless, felt a certain degree 
of pride in being taken up by such a knowing gentleman as 
Fitzspavin, and was only too willing to accompany him to 
those haunts which served to destroy his health and pre- 
cipitate his ruin. No more constant visitor at the Casino 
could be found than Charley. Then came heavy, indi- 
gestible suppers at the Coal Hole or the Cider Cellars, and, 
flashed with wine, he was perfectly careless how he spent 
the remainder of the night. I have sufficient respect for 
iny readers not to insult them by asking them to follow my 
hero further. If they must know, let them ask son Clarence 
or brother 'Gus to account for his pallor and weariness 
when he comes down to breakfast in a well-regulated house, 
and makes wild allusions to bitter beer. 

I suppose there must be some peculiar fascination which 
causes our young men to go through the same dull round 
of miscalled pleasure every night in succession. I have 
tried to realise any attraction it possessed for myself at the 
period when I sowed my wild oats, but I cannot recall any. 
I do not think the offer of many thousands would now 
tempt me to go through a fresh course of what is cynically 
called " seeing life," meaning more correctly, meeting death 
half way. There must be some intense charm about Lon- 
don during the small hours, and spending one's nights in 
chaffing policemen and drinking the most adulterated of 
beer; but I candidly confess that I have growu beyond 
this, and a very misty recollection of the enjoyment it pro- 
duced pervades me ; but I have a very distinct reminiscence 
of the headaches from which I suffered each morning, and 
the tremendous determinations I used to make " to go and 
sin no more, lest a worse thing befell me." Taken alto- 
gether I think our young men will agree with me that lejeu 
ne vaut pas la chandelle. A ruined constitution is but poorly 
compensated by a perfect knowledge of the evil with which 
our great city pullulates 

Among other intellectual amusements to which Charles 



N0CTES XONDINENSES. 183 

devoted himself was billiards, a game which he had greatly 
admired at Oxford, and to which he now paid so much 
attention that he soon became a very good player. Un- 
fortunately, the game of billiards possesses this peculiarity — 
that, however good a player you may be, you are sure to come 
across some one who plays better than yourself, through 
coolness and judgment at any rate. There are men in 
London who make their livelihood, and that a very com- 
fortable one, by the money they nightly pick up at pool; 
and yet, to see them play, you fancy them not nearly so good 
players as yourself. If you wish to convince yourself of 
your mistake try them, that's all; but I would not advise 
you to exceed a half-crown bet. And I am alluding to fair 
players here, who would scorn to take the slightest ad- 
vantage of you beyond what was strictly justifiable by the 
rules ; then think how you must fare if you fall into the 
hands of such gentry as rooked Lord Hotspur out of 
£70,000. He was a good player, and they knew it ; so, to 
make assurance doubly sure, they shaved his ball, and pre- 
vented it ruuning true, by which operation they netted the 
above nice little sum, while Lord Hotspur put out his 
estates to nurse, and wisely left off playing billiards for 
money. 

Another fancy to which Charles gave free scope was a 
dangerous friendship with actors, who, though very good 
fellows in their way, and the majority gentlemen, are not 
exactly the best company for a young man who has his way 
to make in the world. The result of this acquaintance was, 
of course, to make Charley known to a swarm of dramatic 
authors, who are always wont to kotoo actors of renown, as 
a means, I presume, of displaying their independence and 
raising the dignity of literary men. However, they had no 
other method of recommending their adaptations, and per- 
haps I must not blame them, for I do not see that the 
other branch of literature to which I have the honour to 
belong is one whit the better. 

One night, or rather, one morning, Charles had turned 
into a night-house in the Haymarket, being somewhat thirsty, 
when he noticed an elderly man, who had evidently " seen 
better days," in a considerable state of brandy and water, 
and being hustled by two or three prize-fighting cads. Charles, 
with the generosity of youth, took the old man's part, and 
gallantly fought his way out of the house with his almost 
unconscious companion, followed by a yell from the baffled 
ruffians. Charles, fearing to leave the old man to be picked 



184 WILD OATS. 

up by some of the later -visitors of the Haymarket, and yet 
nor knowing what to do with him, hit on the next best 
scheme. He led him into another public-house, and 
deluded him with soda water until he was able to explain 
where he lived, or where lie wished to go to. 

"O yes! I'm all right," the gentleman said with rather 
an insane laugh; "and who the devil are you? Some 
internal counter-jumper or other, I suppose — robbed the 
till, and out spending the money. Very pretty company 
for a gentleman ! Holloa! where am 1?" 

Charley could not be angry with an old man out of whose 
mouth the drink so evidently spoke ; so he kept his temper 
admirably, and merely said that he had tried to save him 
from being robbed, and, having succeeded, would now leave 
him. 

But the old gentleman would not consent to this. He 
clutched at his arm, and said solemnly, — 

" One word, young man. Are you a gentleman ? If so, 
give me your hand, and I thank you for a fine fellow; if 
not, you can go to the devil." 

Charles was highly amused by his original old friend's 
remark, and owned that lie was a gentleman by birth, though 
he insinuated, with gentle sarcasm, that the fact was not 
exactly compatible with his presence in a pothouse. The 
old gentleman winced slightly, and then said, " Hang me, 
you're a good fellow. Here, give me your arm, and see me 
into a cab." 

And, as Charles put him safely under the care of cabby, 
the old gentleman whispered to him, "Young man, hence- 
forth Waffles is your friend. Whenever you come to Paris 
don't forget to ask my address at Galignani's. I'll give you 
some of the finest brandy to be got anywhere." 

He then gave some dark intimation to the cabman, evi- 
dently desirous to retain the mystery as to his abiding place, 
and i he cab rolled away. 

" Lord bless you, sir," said an adjacent policeman, "you 
needn t feel afraid about him; he's always on about this 
time, and we lock him up for safety. He's a good old 
fellow, though, if it wasn't for the drink." 

But Charley was lost in thought. The name of Waffles 
was familiar as a household word to him. He had been the 
delight of our fathers, as one of the cleverest, wildest young 
fellows, who sang bacchanalian songs at OfHey's, Consule 
Planco, and thought such jolly times would last for ever. 
One of the most popular playwrights of his day, and author 



NOCTES LONDINENSES. 185 

of novels which ran through any quantity of editions, 
Wnffles had made money by coat pocketsful. Whenever his 
purse ran empty he had only to go to a publisher and get 
an advance ; for, though he was the idlest of men, he was 
always ready to keep bis promise, and worked like a galley- 
slave when he fancied his honour was assailed by his delay. 
So things went on gloriously, there could be no end to the in- 
come, and, if Waffles' friends recommended saving to him, he 
laughed at the notion, and washed down the unpalatable 
suggestion with copious draughts of brandy and water. 

But it was too good to last; the time came when Waffles' 
right hand forgot its cunning, and his brain, sapped by 
incessant drinking, was unable to cope with the younger 
men who had invaded the theatre of his triumphs. Perhaps, 
too, public taste had changed : the populace no longer ad- 
mired coarse jests about matters which they had been 
brought up to reverence. At any rate, Waffles found thb 
guineas coming in very slowly. For a time he earned a 
precarious income by lending his name to weak books, 
hat this failed, and he was forced to look the matter sternly 
in the face, and work for that livelihood which he had hitherto 
gained so easily. But he discovered that writing from 
compulsion was a very different thing from writing when in 
the vein, and the mortification at finding that bis jests 
failed him when most required produced a dangerous ill- 
ness which confined him to his bed. 

Intense was the sympathy raised by the news of Waffles' 
illness, for he was one of the last links connecting present 
literature with the past, and a subscription was soon raised 
to relieve him from immediate necessity. Then the Literary 
Fund stepped in with that promptitude which it always 
displays in cases of real distress, and many influential per- 
sons discussed what should be done for Waffles. At length 
a vacancy at the Charter-house was offered him, and Waffles, 
still very shaky, went down in a cab to inspect the premises, 
and see whether they were fit for a gentleman; but when 
he heard that the brothers were expected to dine at four 
o'clock he very distinctly negatived the proposition, and 
went back to dine with the kind friend who had accom- 
panied him, at whose house he got lamentably drunk, and, 
I believe, insisted on kissing the maid-servant. 

At last Waffles was got rid of, after he had wearied 
every friend, by a pension of .£80 a year from govern- 
ment, and lives in Paris, under the protection of an old 
woman, who had been his landlady in richer times, and 



186 WILD OATS. 

followed his fortunes with a zeal worthy of a better cause. 
If you go to call on Waffles now, he will tell you most im- 
proper stories, at which he laughs heartily, and euds by 
borrowing a crown of you, which, as soon as you turn your 
back, is converted into brandy. As the last representative 
of the old school of literature, it is interesting to visit him 
once, and a crown is not too much to pay for the curiosity. 
But you must be a gentleman : though Waffles has sunk 
very low he wont associate with cads. He '11 borrow money 
of them, it is true ; but then he regards that as an honour 
he pays them, which they should recognise humbly. 

I think, though, if the present generation cannot write so 
well as the past, and literature is tainted by the knowledge 
of French and German we are obliged to bring into action, 
there will not be many Waffles to represent us. Literary 
men are expected in these hard times to behave respectably, 
or they soon sink in public esteem ; and if the high jinks 
which were the characteristics of writers in the days when 
Captain Morris was the exemplar of the gentleman author 
were to be played now, we should find ourselves compelled 
to turn to some other branch to insure our livelihood. I 
do not say that we are stoics ; indeed, we heartily agree with 
old Martin Luther that 

"Wer nicht liebt Weill, Weib mid Gesang, 
Der bleibt em Narr sein Leben lang." 

Still we have sufficient respect for ourselves to keep our 
revels discreetly from the public ken, and are possibly not 
a bit worse than the most uncompromising teetotaler. 

The only thing that surprises me in this part of Charles 
Dashwood's naughty career is, that he did not take to gam- 
bling. Not that he did not visit all the hells of London, 
under the guidance of his friend Fit/spavin; but he could 
not lower himself to stake money at the same table with the 
utter scoundrels whom he saw collected there. The very 
scum of the continent seemed congregated in these lurking 
places of villany, and though he visited them as a curious 
psychological study, no persuasions would induce him to 
play. But, by a strange contradiction, he Celt not the 
slightest disinclination to speculate on the turf, and, indeed, 
under Fitzspavin's guidance, was becoming quite an adept 
in estimating the odds. He had begun to keep a very 
pretty little pocket-book, in which he entered his bets, and 
was not particular whether he speculated on a horserace, 
foot-race, or even a prize-fight. 



N0CTES LONDINENSE3. 187 

The noble art of self-defence had, for a time, a valuable 
patron in Charley, and he much astonished the professors 
by the valuable use he could make of his fists. In fnot, 
Charley soon found that the pugilists of merry England, 
who are popularly supposed to defend our nation from the 
use of the knife by the glorious example they furnish, were 
an arrant set of impostors. The fights which they got up 
for fabulous sums were almost always "crosses : " no money 
changed hands except that paid by the victims, while a fine 
harvest of watches and chains was reaped on the field, the 
profits of which the professors generally shared with the 
swell mob. It was a grand system of mutual interest, iu 
which the swells who were fools enough to attend repre- 
sented the floating capital. The fighting men themselves 
were a bloated set of burly ruffians, who while in the grub 
state had been strong hitters, and possibly honest ; but, 
so soon as they entered the magic circle, good living and 
the indulgence of every sensual appetite pulled them down, 
and the severest course of training could not restore them 
then - vigour; so Charley, after finding a part of the bat- 
tle-money in two or three fights, grew heartily disgusted 
with the ring and its professors, and turned his attention to 
boat-racing. 

Here he found just the same system at work. The betting 
men regarded the oarsmen as mere machines, which they 
bought and sold at their good pleasure, and the same bad 
result was the rule. No man would be fool enough to pull 
fairly and try to win, if he could gain double the money by 
"chucking" the race; and, with dearly purchased expe- 
rience, Charley made up his mind to devote his attention 
exclusively to horse-racing, for, at any rate, the animals 
were honest, and would do their best to win. 

By this time Charley had gained a considerable stock of 
experience, and, by the time he has got well of the turf 
mania, he will be perfectly justified in assuming the 
honorary title of a " man about town." What profits 
that will bring him in is a moot point. Fortunately 
a very unexpected incident was about to occur, which 
would furnish him an opportunity, at any rate, of regain 
ing his health, if it does not check him in his downward 
career. 

Charley had made a match at billiards with a quiet elderly 
gentleman, who was an habitue of the rooms where he gene- 
rally played, and who was very proud of his proficiency. The 
match was merely meant in jest, and was only for a " fiver ;" 



188 WILD OATS. 

but the rooms were crowded on the occasion, and a good 
deal of speculation seemed afloat. Charley good-humouredly 
accepted some small bets which were offered, and the 
play commenced. They had agreed to play the best out of 
nine, and Charley was certainly in good play, for he won the 
first game in a canter. The second had the same result, 
and champagne was produced. The third game was a 
closer match, and Charley, rather annoyed at the check he 
had met in his hitherto triumphant career, snapped at the 
bets which were offered, and stood in a fair way of losing 
£200. 

The game went on with alternating success, Charley 
drinking wildly and playing very badly, while the old gen- 
tleman was cautious as ever, and put the balls into the 
pocket with that slow, certain stroke which drives young 
men to despair. They stood at lour all, and the decisive 
game commenced. Charley grew very savage, and played 
recklessly. Of course fortune favoured him, and he soon 
ran up to forty-seven, his opponent being at thirty-eigbt, 
and the betting very shy. 

The red ball was over the middle pocket, and Charley, in 
his certainty of wiuning, shouted, "A thousand pounds to 
one that I win the game this stroke ! " 

" Done ! " said Ins opponent, " it is a bet." 
The shock sobered Charles at once, and he felt that he 
had been a fool. A tremor came over him, and he could 
hardly hold his cue. At length he was just about playing, 
when a stranger balked him by saying, — 
"Air. Charles Dashwood, I believe?" 
"Yes; what uo you want ? Don't bother me now." 
" All right, Jim," the stranger went on in a very ginny 
voice; "this is the gentleman. Glad to see you, Mr. 
Dashwood ; you can't think what a precious trouble I have 
had to find you. I want to say something particular to you 
iu private." 

" You d better go, Charley," said Fitzspavin, who had 
been examining the stranger closely. 

Charles stepped angrily to the door, when the stranger 
produced a piece of stamped paper and »aid, " I arrest you, 
Mr. Dashwood, at the suit of Mr. Amos, for £10^7." 
" What the devil do you mean ? " 

" It s a capias. Oh ! 1 see ^ ou don't understand— it's all 
right, I tell you. Mr. Amos heard you were going to 
leave the country, and so he thought ' safe bind, sate find,' 
would be the best." 



*LA DAME BLANCHE : PRENEZ GARDE ! ] 89 

'" Fitz, my boy, come here," cried Charley in despair; 
"there's some mistake." 

At this appeal Fitzspaviu stepped out, and soon found 
from the bailiff how matters stood. He then added, — 

"I m afraid, Charley, you will have to go with this gen- 
tleman, for to-night at least. You can make it all right in 
the morning. It's a pity too, when you were so near win- 
ning the game. Better luck next time " 

Charley, much discomforted, put on his coat and hat, and 
followed the bailiff to some lodgings which had a fine view 
of Chancery Lane. Here he spent a very restless night, and 
bitterly cursed Mr. Amos for defrauding him of the .£200 
he had so nearly won. 



CHAPTER XXriI. 

1A DAME BLANCHE : PRENEZ GARDE ! 

The war with Denmark, on which the Germans had built 
such magnificent hopes, was over, and the armistice of 
Malmo had sunk Germany to a lower degree of degradation 
than she had ever yet attained. Like an overbearing bully 
she had tried to coerce her plucky little opponent ; but, 
finding that hard blows necessitated a give and take, and 
that the punishment could not be all on one side, she had 
soon given in, and the crowing over the capture of the 
"Gefion" had degenerated into a very feeble whine. The 
prioces, however, were satisfied. They had carried out the 
object they desired, for the volunteers had borne all the 
brunt of the war, by which many ardent young republicans 
had been sent out of the world. The troops had plundered 
with the greatest impartiality friend and foe, and as nothing 
more could be gained, and they somehow got a good 
thrashing every time they came into collision with the 
Danes, they were not sorry to hear that they were going 
home again. 

But in Frankfort a bitter feeling was aroused, which 
resulted in the deaths of Lichnovsky and Auerswald, and 
the arrival of the troops to put down the republicans and 
coerce the parliament, for the regents thought it was time 
for the farce to come to an end. The stenographic reports 
daily published had an unfavourable effect on the temper 



190 "WILD OATS. 

of the people, and, besides, Germany did not -want apareol 
of lawyers Lauded together to talk nonsense; so the par- 
liament received a first warning in the shape of armed in- 
terference, and all idea of its inviolability was blown to the 
winds by the death of poor Kobert Blum, its envoy at 
Vienna. It was certainly a mistake that Windischgratz 
should have been selected to quell the insurrection at 
Vienna. The melancholy death of his wife had rendered 
him blind to any feeling but revenge, and the hecatomb of 
victims he piled upon her bier only gratified his own 
\indictiveness, without restoring the people to its old 
affections. The consequence is that, if another revolution 
take place ever in Vienna, the result will be very dif- 
ferent. 

I candidly confess that the Viennese revolution of 1848 
goes beyond my comprehension. That a people notoriously 
so good tempered should rise en masse in behalf of the 
Hungarians, who despise the Germans, and only know them 
by the generic naxie of Suabes, almost surpasses credibility. 
It is not possible to imagine that the Austrians had any 
serious complaints to urge against their good old Kaiser 
Frana'l ; for, whatever may be the faults of the Austrian 
govenment, it cannot be said but that it is the most pater- 
nal c i the continent, and the most honest in furthering 
the w si fare of the nation at large. A great deal was said 
at thi time about the intrigues of the Camarilla and the 
parti pretre ; but my knowledge of the Austrians induces me 
to believe that, as long as they have their beer and plenty 
to eat, they are about as likely to rebel as a herd of pigs. 
Perhaps in this instance, as once before, they were possessed 
of devils, and they certainly shared the same fate. 

However, the Austrian insurrection, from whatever cause 
it originated, had the one decided result of producing the 
strictest amity among the regents, and it was found that 
the very reverse of the divide et impera principle must be 
followed if they wished to secure their thrones. As the 
first step, the Frankfort parliament must be dissolved, as it 
only set the people thinking, which was very undesirable, 
and the war with Denmark must be stopped, in order that 
the troops might be concentrated at home to be prepared 
for any eventualities. The rough habits of warfare, and 
the necessary brutality engendered by bloodshed (some 
rulers employing sausages and champagne for this laudable 
purpose), would have driven all the fraternising nonsense 
out of their minds, and they would be quite prepared to 



LA dame blanche: trenez garde 1 19J 

shoot father or brother if lie dared to rise ia rebellion 
against his anointed lord. 

The Grand Duke of Pumpernickel felt decidpdly uncom- 
fortable. The insurrectionists in Baden bad diffused a bad 
spirit through the whole of southern Germany, and be 
longed to have bis troops back, sadiy lamenting the while 
that he bad ever allowed them to go. As the next best 
measure he recalled all the staff officers, and as many 
others as could be spared. Among them was the young 
Von Eckstein, who resumed bis duties in the palace. The 
Grand Duke began to grow easier in his mind, and could 
now devote his attention to domestic matters. 

Among other subjects which demanded bis immediate 
notice was a very flattering offer of marriage made him for 
the Princess Bertha from a relative of the Russian court. 
At that time the crafty Muscovite was engaged in carrying 
out the scheme of forming alliances all through Germany, 
which bore such excellent fruit in the Crimean war ; and, 
although Pumpernickel was a very small item, it was not to 
be despised, as the Grand Duke was allied to every regnant 
house, and counted cousins with half the nobility of the 
old empire. Hence a prince rejoicing in a name termi- 
nating in off and some five thousand serfs was proposed 
for the Princess; and the Grand Duke, on the principle 
that— 

" 'T is a very fine thing to be father-in-law 
To a very magnificent three-tail'd bashaw," 

was ready to jump out of his royal slippers at the offer, and 
ran off to impart it to his daughter, on the supposition that 
she would be equally pleased. 

But be found himself very much mistaken. The Princess 
Bertha, with all due gratitude, declined the offer, and said 
that she had no wish to change her religion and her name 
even for a Russian prince. The Grand Duke pressed her; 
but she was a daughter of bis to the back bone as far as 
obstinacy was concerned, and when he drew up his eye- 
brows, and reminded her of her duty as a daughter, she 
stamped her little foot, and reminded him of bis duty as a 
father, which was not tc send her to Russia to have half 
her toes frozen off. 

The poor Duke was in despair, for harshness was so 
utterly unsuited to his character, that he did not know how 
to force his daughter to do anything which was so evidently 
for her good. At last he very rudely said that he must find 



102 WILD OATS. 

means to enforce obedience, at which the Princess first 
pouted, and then said laughingly, " We shall see." 

It was quite a novel situation. That a princess should 
think proper to refuse an eligible offer was really too 
absurd ; but, for all that, the Grand Duke was at bis wits' 
end. At first he thought of consulting Helen on the 
matter, for she had more power over her pupil than any 
one else ; but then he remembered the insular obstinacy 
with which she had refused his own magnificent offers, and 
feared that she might only prove a valuable ally to the 
enemy. As a last resource he decided on consulting the 
Countess von Tulpenhain. 

Now, this lady had no particular affection for the Princess, 
for the young person, as she called her in her own mind, 
did not treat her at all like a mother, and a great deal too 
much as an interloper. Hence, when she heard the Duke's 
report, and that his daughter disliked the match, shft 
strongly urged him to force it on her. If no other means 
served, he must turn the light of his countenance from her, 
and declare her in a state of disgrace. That would bring 
her to her senses. The Duke agreed, made another attack 
on his daughter, in which he was lamentably defeated, and 
covered his retreat by declaring her in disgrace during his 
good pleasure. 

This may sound very strange to my English readers; but 
I can assure them it is no joke to be in disgrace at court, 
even if you are a princess. Much has been written about 
the Papal interdict hurled against John Lackland, and 
authors have described in lamentable colours the condition 
of the country durirjg the period when there could be no 
marrying or giving in marriage ; but that was nothing 
compared to disgrace at court. The poor Princess was 
wretched; every one turned away from her except Helen; 
her nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles met with no 
response from those who would have previously flown to 
fulfil her slightest wish. She was as a Pariah among a 
company of high-caste Brahmins, and soon became very 
melancholy and despondiug. At length she one day said 
to her faithful Helen, — 

" Helen, dear, I am sure you love me. Will you do what 
I ask of you? It is a very simple thing." 

"What is it, treasure mine? " said Helen, heartily glad 
to see her dear pupil rousing at length from her lethargy. 

"Fly with me away from this odious court, where all are 
hollow-hearted sycophants. See, Helen, we will go to the 



LA DAME BLANCHE : PEENEZ GARDE ! 193 

Black Forest, and earn our simple food. Oh, it must be so 
charming in those villages dear Auerbach has described !" 

" Silly child, do you think you could earn your living 
with those delicate hands ? Village life is all very charm- 
ing in romances, but the authors wisely forget to tell us 
how their heroines have blistered feet and hands, and faces 
burned so that they laugh cold cream to scorn. Besides, 
Toni you would find worse as a husband than your odious 
Russian prince ; for, if you didn't milk the cows properly, he 
would cut a thick stick from the nearest tree, and lay it 
about your delicate shoulders." 

Helen had a strong suspicion that marriage would be the 
very best thing to drive all the romance out of her pupil's 
head, and hoped that by assuming the duties of a wife she 
would learn her responsibilities as a woman ; so she was a 
hearty ally of the Grand Duke in the matrimonial matter, 
and determined to use all her influence in inducing the 
Princess to give way. The young lady, however, burst into 
a fit of tears, and crying, " You, too, are my enemy, and I 
am left all alone," retired to her bed-chamber, where she spent 
her time in writing a long crossed letter, which she took an 
opportunity of sending to its address by putting it in the 
stove, which was heated outside — a very curious style of 
letter-box, I admit; but the shifts of love are notorious. 

But the court was soon roused from its amazement at the 
Princess's disgrace by the still more astounding information 
that the " white lady " had re-appeared in the palace. A 
belated servant had seen her glidiug along the main corridor, 
and had watched her disappearing in the vicinity of Prin- 
cess Bertha's chamber. The excitement this produced was 
tremendous, and was soon confirmed by other timid persons, 
so, before long, no persuasion would induce a courtier to 
visit the palace apartments and corridors after nightfall, 
unless in strong detachments and well primed with brandy. 

In Great Britain every family which prides itself on its 
descent has its private ghost, which appears at certain in- 
tervals as a sure forerunner of misfortune. Unless the 
banshee were to appear my lord duke would live to an 
eternity, which would be a sad annoyance to his eldest son; 
but, so soon as the spectral visitor has been sighted, he 
deliberately makes up his mind to die, and generally suc- 
ceeds. Perhaps superstition has something to do with it — 
probably malice prepense a good deal more ; but you could 
not insult some great men more than by suggesting a doubt 
as to the reality of their private ghost. They would rather 

o 



194- WILD OATS. 

die than have any slur cast upon that tradition, which 
honours their family so much. Generally, I believe, the 
ghost is traced back to some horrid murder of a woman, 
perpetrated by a member of the family in the prse-Adamite 
ages, for which the culprit would now be hanged at the Old 
Bailey ; but, as Horace Walpole tells us, it is a distinguishing 
mark of high birth to have an ancestor or so hanged, or 
quite worthy of that fate, for some atrocious crime. I am 
afraid my Lord Lytteltou's white dove has much to answer 
for. 

In Germany, I believe, the luxury of keeping a ghost is 
confined to reigning families, and even these suffer from a 
paucity of imagination, for they all run after a " Dame 
Blanche," as if they were devoted admirers of Boieldieu's 
music. The white lady of Berlin is as notorious as the 
little red man of the Tuileries; and the white lady of 
Baden has committed some very naughty actions, if the 
popular traditions are to be credited, in the way of carrying 
off royal infants, and putting them out to nurse like regal 
babes in the wood. I remember that the democrat Hecker, 
who left his co litry for his country's good, owed a great 
portion of his renown among the commonalty to a widely 
spread report that he was own brother to Caspar Hauser, 
and legitimate heir to the crown. No better scheme for 
reconciling republicanism and royalty could have been 
conceived. 

Of course, when white ladies were in the fashion, Pum- 
pernickel could not be without one. I do not know that 
their dame blanche ever did anybody any harm, but she 
was generally believed to be a very dangerous person, to be 
carefully avoided when seen. Hence her appearance excited 
grave apprehensions in court circles, and the Grand Duke, 
who was naturally superstitious, as his conscience was not 
of the brightest, began to become a very regular attendant 
at chapel, and went to bed sober for a whole week. Finding 
the remedy, however, worse than the disease, as he could 
not sleep without his accustomed stimulus, and was troubled 
by hypochondria, which, among us lower mortals, would be 
called the blue devils, he took to the champagne again, and 
went to chapel twice as often as before, to the considerable 
annoyance of the cho plain. 

Unfortunately he could gain no support from the Coun- 
tess, for she was as great a coward as himself, and uttered 
an immense quantity of mon Dieus when she heard of the 
spectral visitant. At last the Duke, thinking that in a 



LA DAME BLANCHE : PRENEZ GARDE ! 195 

multitude of councillors there must be safety, summoned 
Sir Amyas Dashwood to a conference. That gentleman 
listened very attentively, raised his shoulders imperceptibly 
on hearing that the nocturnal visitant disappeared near the 
Princess's apartments, and then said, — 

" I would recommend your Royal Highness to consult 
Miss Mowbray on the subject. She is a sensible, well- 
meaning girl, and if there be any mystery concealed she 
will find it out. I would offer my own services, but I am 
very unwell. Still I think your Royal Highness will be safe 
in that young lady's hands, and you can trust her im- 
plicitly." 

The Grand Duke was greatly relieved by this advice, and 
returned to the palace to put it in practice; so he summoned 
Helen to his presence, and spoke most affectionately to 
her. 

" My dear young lady," he said, " you must be aware 
that the palace is visited each night by the white lady, and 
I am very anxious to discover whether there is any mystery 
connected with her, as Sir Dashwood seems to think. He 
advised me to apply to you, as a lady possessed of great 
discretion ; and I know," he added with a very sickly smile, 
" that you other English fear nothing." 

" I am quite ready to obey your Royal Highness's instruc- 
tions," said Helen spiritedly. "Englishwomen are not 
wont to be terrified by things, merely because they pass 
their comprehension. I am quite willing to do my best to 
solve this mystery, if there be one, though I believe that 
it originates with some servant's vague terrors, and if I 
discover anything I will report it to your Royal High- 
ness." 

" Brave girl !" said the Duke, with great enthusiasm, " I 
will order some of the servants to be within call. 

"Your Royal Highness must pardon me. If there be 
any truth in this vision there may be some secret connected 
with it, which should not be made known to the public. If 
you will permit me I will make my own arrangements, and 
do not fear the result." 

"And when will you proceed to action?" said the Grand 
Duke. 

"This very evening. The preparations I will make are 
very simple, and I shall be ready in half an hour." 

It must be confessed that Helen, on consideration, rather 
disliked the task she had proposed to herself, for, though 
constitutionally brave, she did not like facing a ghost, sup- 



196 WILD OATS. 

posing it really was one. However, she laughed off her 
fears, really believing that some drunken servant had been 
deceived by the moon's rays falling on the corridor in a 
peculiar manner, and she knew perfectly well the truth of 
the adage that one fool makes many; so she made her 
preparations secretly hy procuring a hand lamp and a 
strong cord, which she concealed in her room, and after 
saying good night to her pupil, who seemed strangely 
anxious to get rid of her, she went down to the lower 
corridor, and ensconced herself in the darkness just hy a 
half-opened door, whence she could survey all who came 
along the passage without being herself seen. 

The night watch made her feel uncomfortable, and the 
dark curtains of the apartment assumed strange shapes. 
The room seemed after awhile full of spectral forms, and 
she strove in vain to shake off her nervous apprehension. 
At length, however, the moon burst forth from behind an 
envious cloud, and cheered her like the presence of a friend. 
The clock slowly struck midnight, and the last chime had 
scarcely died away ere Helen fancied she heard footsteps. 
She peeped cautiously out, and saw the white lady glide 
past. She slipped into the corridor, and distinctly saw the 
ghost disappear in the Princess Bertha's apartment, the 
door of which closed noiselessly after her. 

Helen returned to the sitting-room, and took her head 
between her two hands, as the Germans say. Her disbelief 
in ghosts was much shaken, and for awhile she felt ter- 
ribly nervous and timid. All the ghost stories she had read 
in her life recurred to her, do what she would to drive 
them away, and she was certainly in a very uncomfortable 
frame of mind. At length her natural calmness returned 
to her; she reflected that the ghost, if it were one, had 
stepped very solidly, and all her reading had taught her 
that visitors from the other world were decidedly incor- 
poreal ; at any rate, there would be no harm in trying her 
experiment, so she slipped out to the stairs, tied her 
cord very artistically across the balustrades, and waited to 
see how this novel trap to catch a ghost would act. 

One o'clock struck, then two, and still no ghost. Every 
minute was an hour in Helen's over-excited state of mind. 
At length — hark — there is a footfall : another— the ghost is 
coming down the stairs — one — two — three — four — five — 
six — seven — there is the last step — a heavy fall — and Helen 
rushed out to find the lady struggling in a very unladylike 
manner with her petticoats Her mask had fallen off; 



LA DAME BLANCHE : PRENEZ GAKDE 197 

Helen assisted her to rise, and a kind ray enabled her to 
recognise — the Count von Eckstein. 

The poor lad seemed terribly frightened, and quivered 
like an aspen leaf on being detected ; but Helen was not a 
woman to waste precious moments. 

" Your secret is mine, Count, but do not be frightened. 
Give me your word of honour that this is the last time you 
will play this foolish trick, and I will not betray you ; if 
not, you know your fate — the deepest dungeon at Schlan- 
genfels, perhaps a file of musketeers, for daring to raise your 
eyes to your Princess." 

The boy gladly gave the promise, and, thanking Helen 
with tears in his eyes for her generosity, he slipped noise- 
lessly away. Helen then proceeded to the Princess's cham- 
ber, and demanded admittance in an imperious voice. The 
unhappy girl, who had heard the fall, and was fearfully 
alarmed, opened the door. She was ready dressed, and the 
disorder of the room evidenced that she had been making 
preparations to carry out her mad scheme of flight. 

" Bertha, Bertha," Helen said sorrowfully, " I did not 
expect this of you. You were not generous to expose me 
to such a risk ; for, had you carried out your flight, what 
would have been my fate ?" 

The Princess burst into a violent flood of tears, threw 
herself into Helen's arms, and at length sobbed, — 

" Oh, if you only knew how I love Carl ! I cannot marry 
that B,ussian, and — and, as you had turned from me, I had 
persuaded him to fly with me. But he is innocent, dearest 
Helen ; it is all my fault. I persuaded him to appear as the 
white lady. We should have been happy, I am sure." 

"And what is the meaning of this trumpery?" said 
Helen sternly, pointing to a white domino and mask which 
lay on the sofa. 

"I was going to follow Carl in that dress, and pass the 
guards. Once out of the palace, and everything was pre- 
pared for escape." 

" Silly child, I should be angry with you if I was not 
more so with the Count. What shall I tell the Grand Duke 
when he asks me to-morrow?" 

" Oh ! for heaven's sake do not tell him of my folly — he 
will be so angry. Promise me that, dearest Helen, and I 
will do anything you wish." 

" On one condition I will spare you, Princess — your word 
of honour that you will marry the Kussian prince, and you 
will never hear more of this night's adventure. Silly girl.. 



108 WILD OATS. 

believe me, I am only speaking for your own good. You 
would have been miserable witb your Carl. How could he 
have provided you witb those luxuries which have become 
a second nature to you ? Come, kiss me, Bertha, and let 
me hear no more of this nonsense." 

And this was the stern, matter-of-fact way in which Helen 
nipped the tender bud of the Princess's young affections. 
Hard-hearted young woman ! I am almost inclined to give 
her up as my heroine, and enlist all my reader's sympathies 
for the hapless Princess. There would be something so 
peculiarly interesting in royal "love in a cottage;" but I 
forbear, for the Princess only too readily gave the required 
promise, very glad to be quitte pour la peur. 

The next morning Helen had an interview with the 
Grand Duke, who had been waiting with some anxiety her 
report. Her first words re-assured him. 

" I am happy to inform your Royal Highness that the 
ghost is laid, and that the Princess has listened to my 
advice, and is ready to marry Prince Rubelskoff." 

" Excellent young lady ! you have done me an inestimable 
service. You discovered, then " 

" I must trust to your Royal Highness's generosity to 
enable me to keep the secresy I promised." 

" Enough ; I ask no more. My gratitude will find a 
suitable reward for you. Nay, no thanks; you have satis- 
fied the ambition of my life." 

And the next morning's Gazette announced Helen's ap- 
pointment as Chanoinesse of the Most Noble Order of the 
Pommeranze. Who would not be ready to lay down his life 
after that for so generous a ruler as the Grand Duke of 
Pumpernickel ? 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

SAFE BIND, SAFE FIND. 



The gentleman who had so rudely interrupted Charles 
Dashwood's game of billiards conducted him in a cab to 
his new lodgings, and, after taking a most polite leave of 
him, left Charley for the first time in his life under lock 
And key. It is true it was merely a lock-up house, and 
bore about the same relation to a debtor's prison as the 



8AFE BIND, SAFE FIND. 199 

House of Detention does to Coldbath Fields. Still, no 
Englishman likes to have the liberty of the subject as- 
sailed in so sudden a manner, and Charles looked with 
intense disgust on the filthy walls and pestiferous stair- 
case of his new domicile. 

At the top of the stairs he was met by a half-waiter, 
half-cad, but whole Jew, who, after taking a rapid survey 
of his appearance, said in a very nasal twang, " Private 
room, sir?" 

Charles, perfectly innocent of the ways and customs of 
sponging-houses, answered in the affirmative, aud was 
speedily shown into an apartment hung with pictures in 
gorgeous frames, the corners of which had suffered con- 
siderable abrasion, as if they were repeatedly taken down. 
This was, in fact, the case; for Ikey Moss, the sheriff's 
officer, did a good deal in paper, and these Titians and 
Dominichinos always represented a portion of the capital 
handed over for a bit of " stiff." Still he was never happy 
till he got them into his possession again, and had repeated 
the lie so often about their genuineness that he at last had 
grown to believe that they were a valuable property. The 
furniture had all been very smart in its time, but there were 
suspicious dents on the rosewood tables, suggestive of their 
having been hammered by pewter pots, and the mantel- 
piece had been regularly pock-marked by the burning ends 
of cigars. This is an amusement I can safely recommend 
to my juvenile readers as far preferable to the American 
whittling. 

The Jew attendant placed a flaring mutton fat on the 
table and ejaculated, " Two guineas, sir." 

"What for?" asked Charley. 

" For the apartments. Pay in advance is the rule here." 

" Rather an expensive luxury living in your hotel ! Can't 
I have any other accommodation?" 

" There is the coffee-room, sir, and a bed in the garret — 
six bob a night ; but I don't think you '11 like that, as two 
of the gents has been drinking and got to fighting." 

" Well, it 's of no consequence, I 'm sure to be out to- 
morrow ; so here 's your money, and go to the devil ! " 

The Jew retired with an ominous grin, for bow many 
times had he not heard the same story, and watched the 
prisoner's progress from Chancery Lane to Whitecrosa 
Street, and thence to the Insolvent Court? There never 
was a man locked up yet to whom hope did not impart the 
flattering tale that his imprisonment, was only a matter of 



200 WILD OATS. 

a day; and how many have had their dream realised? 
Well, perhaps it is all for the best. If we did not live on 
hope, this world would be a wretched place. Charley did 
not merely hope, he felt confident of his release; so he only 
laughed at his dilemma, and with the buoyancy of youth 
began performing a rapid mental calculation of the income 
the Jew must receive from his interesting abode. But, not 
having a mathematical head, he soon grew tired of this 
occupation, and retired to bed — I trust to sleep ; but this 
fact I am inclined to doubt, for Ikey Moss's establishment 
for gentlemen is not the cleanest in the world, nor is that 
estimable man, among his multifarious professions, an ex- 
terminator of vermin. 

■Well, at any rate, Charley went through the hollow 
mockery of bed, and got up the next morning with a very 
considerable appetite. He ordered breakfast, and would 
possibly have preferred his mutton chop without the strong 
flavour of red herring imparted to it by the last operation 
the gridiron had performed ; and he thought the tea might 
have been stronger, considering he had five shillings to pay 
for the meal. After breakfast was over he began to think 
it was time to make arrangements about getting out, and 
for that purpose decided on consulting his uncle's solicitor, 
Mr. Short, whom he knew to be an honest man. He 
therefore wrote him a note, requesting his presence and 
detailing the circumstances of his capture,-and a messenger 
was found, who condescended to carry it to the address for 
the sum of half a crown. 

Soon after, Fitzspavin made his appearance, and explained 
to Charley the mystery of his incarceration. He had made 
some inquiries at the assurance office in an underhand 
manner, and found that my hero had been arrested on a 
capias, two witnesses having sworn that he had expressed 
an intention of quitting the country. 

" What infernal scoundrels! I never said I was going 
out of the country." 

" Stop ! " said Fitzspavin. " Don't you remember your 
saying to me you would go with me to Chantilly races next 
week?" 

"Yes; and what then?" 

" There you have it. Some one has been watching you 
closely, and heard your remark. That was quite enough for 
Amos, and he got a writ out at once. Ah ! you may well 
look astonished; but that's nothing new. I remember 
Durfey of the Guards being taken much in the same way. 



SAFE BIND, SAFE FIND. 201 

He had been robbed of a watch, and was mentioning the 
circumstance to his tailor, who said he had no doubt the 
fellow would be transported. 'Then, by gad,' said Durfey, 
' I '11 go after him to get my watch back, for it's a family 
relic' The next morning he was 'took' on a capias, the 
tailor and his foreman having sworn to his expressed in- 
tention of leaving the country. ' Oh, you don't know half 
the dodges of our precious law !" 

" Well, what's to be done?" said Charley, rather non- 
plused at this summary of the law of the land. 

" Oh, we must get you bailed out, old fellow! I '11 be 
one, and I daresay we can soon find another." 

" But I want to get out to-day, I tell you ; I have an en- 
gagement to dinner." 

" Oh, that s impossible ! There s lots to be done before 
Moss will let you go. There 's the office to search, to see if 
there are any more detainers against you ; and, though he 
knows it s all right, he won't let you go as long as he can 
milk you." 

"Well, I'll be hanged if he shall, though. As soou as 
I have seen my lawyer I will migrate to the coffee-room, 
and he shan't have more than six bob a day out of me, if I 
know it." 

" Well, you know best ; but I'll go and see about another 
bondsman, and I '11 let you know how matters stand before 
long. Ta-ta, my boy ; keep your pecker up. Oh, by the 
way, here's a bundle of cigars for you !" 

Mr. Short made his appearance soon after, and laughed 
very heartily at finding his young friend regarding life from 
a different phase. He soon understood how matters stood ; 
he was well acquainted with Mr. Sharpe's character, and 
had no doubt that Charley's arrest was owing to some 
machination of his. This was, in fact, the case. Charley 
had intrusted his interests to him, but he had thought best 
to keep in with the office ; so he had not objected to a 
clause that, if the first three months' interest were not paid 
when due, Charley would be liable to arrest for both in- 
terest and principal. Mr. Amos was a shrewd man, and 
thought that by arresting Charles he would frighten him 
into selling his reversion for some absurd sum. He had 
found this experiment answer excellently before, so he did 
not see why be should not try it again. 

Mr. Short took matters so calmly that he quite exaspe- 
rated my hero. However, telling him that he would at- 
tend to the matter of bail, though it might be a fortnight 



202 WILD OATS. 

before he was released, as notice of bail must be given, and 
things took time, he went away to look after his other 
clients' interests in the same insouciant manner, while 
Charley rang violently for the Jew waiter, end ordered him 
to show the way to the coffee-room. 

This apartment was a sanded room, not half so clean or 
respectable as a public-house tap. The furniture consisted 
of two or three deal tables and some rickety chairs, while 
the heavy bars up to the windows gave the room a most 
dreary appearance. There were only three occupants, two 
gentlemen being engaged over the fireplace smoking short 
pipes, and amiably sharing a pot of porter, while the third, 
an Irishman, had his head out of the window, and was 
coughing violently. It was evident that the tobacco smoke 
annoyed him extremely ; but a sponging-house is not the 
place to destroy selfishness. 

All three had a frouzy, unshaven appearance, which 
showed that they must have been denizens of the coffee- 
room for some time ; and a visit to a pump would have 
caused a decided improvement to their faces. After awhile 
they affably conversed with our hero, so soon as the awe of 
his swellish appearance had worn off, and unanimously 
abused the law and the lawyers. The Hibernian was, of 
course, the most furious of all, and between the paroxysms 
of his cough hurled imprecations on the lawmakers who had 
occasioned his detention. His case was certainly a hard 
one. He had been surety for a friend, and, of course, was 
let in ; but when he managed to scrape up the money he 
found the expenses had doubled the amount, and he was 
sent to prison as a practical lesson not to believe in friend- 
ship. And, to hear him talk, he would not stretch out a 
hand to save a brother ; and I have no doubt as soon as he 
gets out, and the remembrance of the insult has worn off, 
Irishman-like he will be answerable for the first countryman 
who asks him, and be in the same trouble again. 

The other two presented no striking features. They were 
evidently scamps of the very commonest clay, and had no 
doubt been locked up for offences richly deserving such 
punishment. I believe it is very rare for men to get 
arrested unless they richly deserve it (I always except the 
case of owing money to a lawyer, for, of course, he will 
arrest you all in the way of business); but, as a general rule, 
tradesmen and clerks, who form nine-tenths of prisoners for 
debt, are not arrested until they have repeatedly broken 
their promises, and their creditors find there is no chance of 



SAFE BIND, SAKE FIND. 203 

getting their money except by severity. Englishmen are 
not such a very hard-hearted set after all. Perhaps the 
worst are landlords; but they insure themselves against loss 
by seizing your traps, and grow used to the barbarity by 
constant repetition. But it is really very annoying to be 
swindled out of your money by some smooth-tongued 
scoundrel, and there is an exquisite gratification in having 
him under lock and key. 

I think, though, an alteration might be safely made in 
our sponging-house system, and I wonder that some Irish 
member — for, of course, they have all passed through 
Chancery Lane on their way to the bar — does not get up in 
the House, and expose the wrongs to which debtors are sub- 
jected by Ikey Moss and his collaborateurs in the Sheriff's 
Court. The living in a lock-up house is simply filthy. The 
food is the very worst which can be procured from the 
adjoining slums of Clare Market, and is cooked in the most 
irresponsible manner. Of course, cela va sans dire that the 
tablecloth and knives and forks were never cleansed within 
the memory of man, and the price charged for dinner would 
give you a sumptuous repast at the Wellington. At any 
rate, these houses might be put under the surveillance of 
the Medical Inspector of Nuisances, and the owners forced 
to take out a license for a common lodging-house. This 
might prevent them from stuffing twelve beds into a room 
hardly large enough for four, and coolly receiving six shil- 
lings a head for the accommodation. 

It is a dreary life at the best, and though Charles tried to 
make his companions happy by standing any quantity of 
beer, which they drank to drown their sorrow, the merriment 
was very factitious after all. The only relief furnished was 
by the entrance of new prisoners, and hearing their story. 
Every one was the most innocent man in the world, and 
arrested on the most villanous pretexts, and a general growl 
was raised against the lawyers. Fresh batches came in to 
supply the places of others whose writs were returnable 
and such is the strange infatuation, that men who kno 
perfectly well that they must go to Portugal Street in the 
end for release, will hang on to the horrible sponging-house 
till the last moment, robbing their family of the money, 
and laying up a heavy stock of duplicates as the price of 
their extravagance. 

Charley was savagely pacing up and down the room, and 
feeling like a tiger behiud the bars of his cage, when f 
familiar face cheered him up in the shape of Mr. Leggitt, 



204 WILD OATS. 

who was well known to my hero as a turf man, and had 
found his way to Chancery Lane by some accident. With 
him Charley agreed to hire a private sitting-room, for he was 
growing heartily sick of the coffee-room, and the two clubbed 
together to find amusement. 

" I tell you what it is, Dashwood," said Leggitt, after 
moodily gaziug out of the window, " this will play old 
Harry with me if I don't get out soon. I have a better book 
than I have known for years, and have only wanted the 
opportunity to hedge off some bets; then I should sit in 
clover, and all for a paltry hundred and fifty. Such a 
chance of making a fortune I never had before. If things 
had only gone right I should have opened a betting-office 
before the Derby, and won a hatful of tin." 

" Tell me something about the betting-offices, Leggitt," 
said Charley. " I have heard a great deal about them, but 
don't understand the rights of them. Let's see, you get in 
as much money as you can, and then bolt; but that won't 
suit you, Leggitt, for you 'd lose all your commissions, and 
they must bring you in a tidy sum." 

" No, no, I don't want to go to work that way. You 
see, Dashwood, the plan is simple enough. You lay odds 
all round, and the public always have a favourite they back. 
Well, if an outsider wins, you 're all right; if not, you have 
had opportunities to hedge, and then you make yourself 
safe. My information is first rate, and I always know 
when to close my book against a horse; and, what with the 
scratches and the horses that are ' boiled,' a very pretty 
margin of profit is left. But we do not trust entirely to 
legitimate speculation : we have an army of prophets in our 
pay, who work the oracle by putting the publio on an out- 
sider, as having had an extraordinary trial, when the run 
on the favourite is getting too stiff, and we always take care 
to select a horse which we know will not be allowed to win. 
Then the ring helps us over our difficulties. The Leviathan 
would have been smashed if Berenice had won the Oaks 
last year, owing to the tremendous double bets he had laid; 
so, to secure payment of what they had already won on the 
Derby, the 'swells' decided that an outsider should win. 
Oh ! it's a sure game, and if I only was out I could win 
lots of tin." 

Charley felt interested in his friend's explanations, and 
eventually agreed to go halves with him in the scheme, 
for he fancied that he saw his way to fortune ; so he 
produced i>70, almost all that remained to him, and 



SAFE BIND, SAFE FIND. 205 

accepted a bill for .£200 to represent his sbare in the 
office. Mr. Leggitt managed, by some mysterious means, 
to raise the remainder of the money, and took an affec- 
tionate leave of Charley, assuring him that as soon as he 
got out again there would be lots of money for him ; and 
I think he really meant it at the time. He was not to fore- 
see that Charley would make a mess of it, as will always be 
the case when men who have not been brought up as 
blacklegs try to qualify themselves for that honourable 
profession, and fancy that the art of winning money on the 
turf can be acquired in six lessons, after the style of Mr 
Smart's writing school. 

Charley grew worse and worse in spirits when Leggitt 
had left bim, and was heartily glad if Fitzspavin came 
to spend an evening with him. Then they indulged in cold 
gin sling and piquet, and so the time slipped away as 
slowly as it does for the man who is waiting the death of an 
annuitant — a class of persons who never die. But Fitz- 
spavin could not come always, and so Charley was driven 
back to the coffee room, with its low scamps and boasted 
trickery. He spent uncounted half-crowns in sending 
despatches to Mr. Short, to which that amiable gentleman 
returned no answer, from the simple fact that he had been 
summoned to Germany by Sir Amyas, and was at that very 
period entertaining a select circle by an amusing and rather 
exaggerated description of Mr. Charles Dashwood's life as 
a man about town. 

Charley tried everything he could imagine to make the 
time pass more rapidly; he even asked the waiter (fami- 
liarly termed Shady, his name being Shadrach) to lend him 
a book to read, and was soon buried in the refreshing pages 
of the Newgate Calendar; but that proving too exciting 
for his present temper, and suggesting some wild thoughts 
that he would have no objection to be hanged at Newgate 
if he could only imitate Mr. Richard Turpin, ajd place 
Mr. Amos on a brisk fire for half an hour, Charles was 
obliged to return the book to its owner, and try the nearest 
circulating library. The sympathising bookseller sent him 
"Vanity Faie," and in the perusal of that wondrous book 
Charles found the hours slip away only too rapidly, and he 
was heartily grieved when the gas was put out, and he 
was forced to retire to his garret. On the othei hand, the 
night appeared unending, which so enviously debarred 
him from the continuation of his reading, and he stopped 
hardly for his meals till he reached the last page ; but only 



206 WILD OATS. 

to commence again, and he found new beauties the more 
closely he read — fresh allusions which he had passed over, 
and which filled him with renewed amazement at the om- 
niscience of the writer. At last he could not be pacified until 
he had made the book his own by purchase, and he hugged 
it to his heart, as the truest friend he had found in his 
purgatory. 

And I believe that the perusal of the book did him per- 
manent good, and he determined that he too would be an 
author, and strive to furnish his quota to the common weal 
by a description of his own experiences. Every young 
writer must be objective; it is so much easier to describe 
than to invent. Witness the " Crescent and the Cross," the 
most charming book of travels our century has boasted: 
compare it with Darien, and longum abludit imago. Not 
that poor Eliot Warburton, had he been spared, would not 
have enrolled his name worthily among the best writers of 
the day, but his extant works prove that he was in a state 
of transition, and had not yet learned to trust in his own 
powers. 

To evidence the hold Mr. Thackeray had on my hero, I 
may mention that he sedulously avoided reading any other 
novels, and, though possibly a perusal of Mrs. A. or Mr. B.'s 
crudities might have increased his reverence for Thackeray, 
by showing him the inaccessibility of the pinnacle on which 
that great man has placed himself, he wisely forbore. Not 
that he had as yet appreciated the exquisite skill by which 
Thackeray conceals his art, and proves himself the most 
consummate artisan ; on the contrary, the simplicity of the 
style deceived Charley, aud he fancied nothing could be easier 
than to imitate his terseness. His vanity was not great 
enough to induce him to believe he could approach the wit, 
but in the other point he was also mistaken. Thackeray is 
inimitable, aud this has been proved by the utter fiasco 
clever writers have made when they attempted to follow too 
closely in his footsteps. It is like a rustic's hobnailed boot 
trying to fill the exact mark left by a lady's Balmoral boot. 

At length Charley was released from his Chancery Lane 
purgatory by the return of the writ, and Mr. Moss informed 
him, with unfeigned regret, that he would have to leave and 
go to prison. Charley resisted all the insidious suggestions 
that he should go before a judge, and be allowed to transfer 
himself to the Queen's Bench. He had a notion that 
Whitecross Street would furnish him with more original 
matter for his meditated book, and so he chartered a cab, 



burdon's hotel. 207 

and drove confidently off to Cripplegate. After enjoying 
his comparative liberty, and pouring forth a libation to the 
Manes in the shape of a pot of porter, he entered the 
frowning gateway of Whitecross Street prison, that half-way 
house to the Insolvent Court. 



CHAPTER XXV. 
bordon's hotel. 



It was on a Saturday evening that my hero had the dis- 
tinguished honour of sitting for his portrait in the porter's 
lodge of the Whitecross Street Hotel. This operation being 
speedily performed, he was conducted through various 
strong doors, which the turnkey viciously banged after him, 
as a sign of the impossibility of escape, into the receiving 
ward, a long whitewashed room, with a few tables and 
chairs, where he found three or four gentlemen comfortably 
seated, and drinking their after-dinner port. The warden, 
an old man, who had resided in the prison for years, in 
consequence of some smuggling transactions, took charge 
of his carpet bag, and, after instituting some inquiries as to 
whether he liked sheets on his bed, proceeded to explain to 
him the rules and regulations of Her Majesty's prison. 

Charley found them very satisfactory, and the change 
from the filth of Chancery Lane was highly agreeable. 
With money a man has no necessity to deny himself 
luxuries even in a prison, and a very decent supper, for 
which he was charged only two shillings, was an excellent 
substitute for Shadrach's herring-flavoured mutton chops. 
A comfortable bed, for which he only paid one shilling, 
received him, and he was anabled to sleep without fear of 
nocturnal invaders of his rest. In fact, so comfortable did 
the prison appear to him, that he only felt annoyed that be 
had not moved thither before, instead of listening to Shady 's 
gloomy representations of the horrors of prison life. 

The next day, being Sunday, Charles was obliged to spend 
in the receiving-ward, and amused himself by conversation 
with a grey-haired rustic, who was incarcerated for forty 
days for the magnificent sum of eighteenpence. He had 
been condemned to pay that amount weekly on a county 
court decision, as instalment of a doctor's bill he owed for 



208 WILD OATS. 

his wife's illness. The poor woman died, and he was 
thrown out of work; but the dignity of the county court 
must be maintained at all hazards, so his committal was 
made out, and, without regard to his prayers to be allowed 
to see the last of his poor wife, he was dragged off to prison, 
and would cost his country some five pounds before he was 
liberated. But the principle must be maintained at any 
expense, and poor Hobnail, though forced to confess that it 
was all right he 'sposed, was sadly put to it to comprehend 
why he was punished as severely for the non-payment of 
eighteenpence as if he had snared a hare. 

But, although the denizens of the receiving-ward were, I 
doubt not, a great set of scamps, they could not listen to the 
poor old fellow's story unmoved, and therefore willingly 
acquiesced in Charles's proposition to get up a subscription 
for him, to find him in tobacco, at any rate, during his in- 
carceration. The result proved so satisfactory that the old 
man brightened up wonderfully, and I daresay would 
have consented to a further period of imprisonment on the 
same terms. However, the majesty of the law must be 
protected, and so he was sent down into the poor debtors' 
ward to mingle with a set of scamps, who would soon teach 
him wickedness enough to laugh at the hitherto unknown 
terrors of the county court. 

In the afternoon the debtors were visited by the chap- 
lain, who rarely condescended to make his appearance in 
the regular prison, but had no objection to associate with 
the inmates of the receiving-ward, the majority of whom 
were on their passage to the Queen's Bench, and were 
allowed to remain here until the necessary arrangements 
had been made. He had not the slightest unwillingness to 
drink a glass or so of wine, and proved his interest in the 
moral welfare of the prisoners by sharply reprehending the 
warden for not getting the wine in from the Pig and 
Whistle. " This stuff," he added, " I am sure, comes from 
the Saracen, and is not fit to driuk," which remark induced 
Charles to believe, very unjustly I have no doubt, that the 
holy man must be a very regular visitor to the neighbouring 
public-houses. However, he made up for this by reading 
the rustic a lengthened lecture on the immorality of not 
paying his creditors, but unaccountably neglected to give 
him anything which might enable him to do so — except 
advice. Then, expressing a hope that he should see the 
gentleman at afternoon service, he waddled out of the 
ward, with a sweet consciousness that he had done his duty 



EDRDON S HOTEL. 209 

as a clergyman and a brother. I am afraid that the pri- 
soners were not edified by his remarks, for they neglected 
to accept his invitation, with the exception of Hobnail, who 
had been forced to go to church every Sunday by his vicar, 
and had too high a respect for the cloth to infringe any of 
its ordinances. 

On the Monday morning Charles was conducted to the 
Middlesex side of the prison, and left to his own resources. 
The place did not assume any peculiarly stern aspect, and 
he was more and more lost in conjectures as to the effect 
produced by imprisonment for debt. On entering No. 4 
ward, to which he had been allotted, he was hailed by a 
grey-haired man, who announced himself as steward of the 
ward, and requested the pleasure of his company at dinner 
and the other meals. By the payment of a guinea he would 
be found in cooking, boot-cleaning, knives and forks, &c , 
and be freed from the unpleasant duties of pumping water, 
making beds, &c, which devolved on the poorer prisoners, 
who received a weekly sum for that purpose. In addition, 
he would have the advantage of reading all the newspapers, 
and, to show the impartiality of the managing committee, 
even the Morning Herald was taken in. Then followed 
an introduction to the president of the ward, and Charles 
had become a " fellow of the college." 

The large yard in which the prisoners took exercise had 
two shops established in it, one for the sale of groceries, &c , 
the other for beer ; and there was nothing to prevent your 
getting as drunk as you pleased, that is, if you possessed the 
requisite funds ; otherwise, I think a prison must be an un- 
pleasant place. Roll-call was held at four o'clock, and after 
that dinner was served — a very excellent repast, clean and 
comfortable, for the sum of half a crown. Charles was 
rather amused when the steward asked him if he wished for 
wine with his dinner, and explained to him that, although 
the regulations of the prison only allowed him a pint for 
himself, there would be no difficulty in procuring a dozen. 
All prisoners being equal in the eye of the law enjoyed 
equal privileges ; but the majority of them being unable to 
appreciate the taste of wine would be glad to exchange their 
privilege for a pint of porter ; so Charles, as the new 
member, had not the slightest objection to standing half a 
dozen of sherry to the steward's table, for which he was 
voted a brick, and his health drunk most uproariously. 

As for amusement there was any quantity. Cards, chess, 
and draughts were allowed, but no gambling. The governor 



210 WILD 0AT3. 

had instituted a sub-prefecture in each ward, who held office 
on condition that they would generally strive to keep the 
peace and prohibit dice ; and I must do them the credit to 
say that they faithfully kept their word. I daresay they 
would have had no objection to pick your pocket, but break 
a promise never. After dinner, however, an hour was 
devoted to the sale of the daily papers by auction, and to 
the trial of all offences against good manners, which often 
led to some amusing scenes, as the culprit was allowed the 
privilege of counsel, and there were always attorneys enough 
in prison to carry on the farce; but the person on trial was 
certain to be condemned for the sake of the fine, which went 
to the common treasury. I have forgotten to say, by the 
way, that the entrance money was lent to the steward on 
security of his plates, dishes, &c, in order that he might 
carry out the duties of his office in a respectable manner. 

At nine o'clock the bell rang for bed, and Charles, who, 
according to custom, had paid for two gallons of beer, found 
that beverage converted into egg-flip, and awaiting him in 
the dormitory. The room was clean, and contained a dozen 
iron beds fastened down securely to the floor, as it seemed, 
and by the provident care of the steward he had clean 
sheets and a feather bed for himself. Then commenced an 
ordeal which would terminate Charles's novitiate. The 
prisoners collected solemnly in a circle, and a long-legged 
attorney's clerk, who had been unanimously elected presi- 
dent of the room, owing to the advice gratis he was in the 
habit of giving, proceeded to address my hero as follows : — 

" Mr. Charles Dashwood, in accordance with the imme- 
morial customs of Burdon's Hotel it is my painful duty to 
put certain questions to you, which you will have to answer 
on honour. In the first place, then, how long did you stay 
at the lock-up ? " 

" A week." 

" And did you pay your bill?" 

" I did." 

Chorus. " Ob, what a muff! what a muff! " 

The president waved his hand, then continued, " I pre- 
sume, Mr. Charles Dashwood, you came here in a cab. Did 
you pav for it yourself, or leave that to the myrmidons of 
the law"? " 

" I paid it," replied my hero, humbly conscious of his 
great fault. 

Chorus, " Oh, what a muff! Oh, what a muff! " 

" Having thus evidenced your greenness, Mr. Dashw 



BDEDON S HOTEL. 211 

I need not ask whether you also paid for the beer you 
drank. By your own confession you have been guilty of 
grave crimes against tbe privileges of debtors. How say 
you, gentlemen, is Mr. Dashwood guilty or not guilty ?" 

" Guilty, decidedly," was the unanimous reply. 

"The justice of this honourable court being tempered 
with mescy, I shall not inflict the strict punishment upon 
you, in consideration of the beer you have stood; but I 
trust this will prove a warning to you whenever you may 
again be brought to this hotel. The court is dissolved. 
Mr. Dashwood, your health, and confusion to your enemies." 
And, seizing a half-gallon can, Mr. Bobbins let about a quart 
of the insidious fluid gently glide down his throat, to the 
unmitigated disgust of the other members of the room. The 
beer being soon disposed of, the gentlemen seemed ripe for 
mischief, and while Charles retired to bed, utterly amazed 
at the working of the law of imprisonment for debt, the 
others, instigated by a half-pay captain, smashed all the 
crockery, which they threw out of window, and ended by 
forcibly dragging up one of tbe iron bedsteads, which they 
hurled down the stone stairs with a frantic din. This, of 
course, woke up the turnkeys, and they prepared for a general 
action ; but, the door of the room being barricaded, they 
were unable to force an entrance, and were obliged to utter 
fierce threats through the keyhole, which were greeted with 
shouts of sarcastic laughter. At length tranquillity was 
restored, and the ward went off to sleep. 

In the morning the prisoners rose at eight o'clock, hot 
water being brought for shaving purposes, with the excep- 
tion of Mr. Eobbins, who preferred being locked in till 
twelve, and "doing a skulk," as he elegantly termed it. 
Nothing came of the nocturnal disturbance, for the strong 
room would not contain all the culprits, and it was im- 
possible to detect the ringleaders, so the place was put 
straight again, and the beds secured with double stanchions, 
to prevent, if possible, another row. The crockery belong- 
ing to the steward was replaced by a general subscription 
among the wardsmen, and they could break it again if they 
liked on the same terms. 

In the evening No. 3 ward invited No. 4 ward to a har- 
monic meeting, and the great point appeared to consist in 
singing very improper songs, for the purpose of annoying 
two or three white-chokered individuals, who sat in a corner 
reading good books and trying to stop their ears with their 
fingers. What busiuess such respectable-looking men had 



212 WILD OATS. 

in a prison it would be difficult to say ; but if they thought 
it a good place for missionary efforts they were sadly mis- 
taken, for so much blasphemy and bad language have hardly 
ever been congregated before in so small a space. For my 
part, I believe a meeting of ticket-of-leave men more re- 
spectable than Her Majesty's prison for debtors. 

As may be supposed, the prisoners, having little else to 
do, indulged in mischief to an alarming extent, and prac- 
tical joking was the order of the day. In this the attorney's 
clerk was the ringleader ; and, having an admirable talent 
for forgery, he amused himself with writing insulting letters 
to persons in the name of other debtors, whose handwriting 
he was acquainted with through his legal assistance to 
them. He succeeded in getting up two or three fights, 
which afforded him intense gratification ; but, being at last 
detected in the act, was most ignominiously cobbed, in 
which performance the whole of the ward joined. Among 
other amusements was gin-hunting : as spirits were pro- 
hibited, everybody tried his hardest to have them smuggled 
in. When a prisoner succeeded in this feat, and stowed 
away his bottle in his locker for his own private delecta- 
tion, the joke was to wait till his back was turned and 
drink the spirits, carefully filling up the bottle with water. 
Of course the victim could not complain to the turnkeys, 
and his comic outbreak of rage afforded fun for amusement 
till the next practical joke diverted attention from him. 

Although the prisoners were imbued with a true spirit of 
republican fraternity, and held out a helping hand to any 
new coiner who candidly said that he was unable to take 
up his freedom, they showed no mercy to any prisoner 
whom they thought unwilling to pay his guinea fee. It 
was always very easy to find out from the man on the lock 
what any prisoner was in for, and, if he declined paying, his 
life was a burden to him. He became a perfect Ishmaelite, 
every man's hand being raised against him. If he tried to 
boil a cup of coffee it was sure to be overset ; if he attempted 
to cook a chop it fell into the fire or on the sandy floor by 
some inexplicable means. No one spoke to him ; he was 
an outcast of society, and when he sat down to read or 
write he was saluted by lumps of coal and pieces of wood 
from every corner of the room. The most obstinate were 
forced to give in ; they could not go on in this wretched 
state, and at last produced their money, which had been 
sewn up in their coat, or cleverly hidden in lumps of seal- 
ing wax. As a general rule these men were fraudulent 



burdon's hotel. 213 

bankrupts, whom the debtors' prison saved from an ac- 
quaintance with Newgate, or who did not dare appeal to the 
Insolvent Court, in the knowledge that they would be sent 
back for an unlimited period, and removed to the " poor 
debtors' " ward, where imprisonment was no joke, as beer and 
tobacco were strictly forbidden. 

But, let a prisoner go into Whitecross Street with ever so 
honest intentions, I defy him to touch pitch without being 
defiled. A swarm of blackguard attorneys flock in as soon 
as the gates are open in the morning, and try their hand on 
the new prisoners, strongly recommending the Insolvent 
Court as a panacea for all social wrongs. They take good 
care to get their fees before moving in the matter, and run 
them up to more than a respectable practitioner would 
charge ; but then they are so knowing, and up to so many 
dodges, that a prisoner instinctively feels a respect for 
them as soon as he begins to find that in the prison the 
greatest rogue is considered the cleverest fellow. As for 
any good resulting from imprisonment the idea is simply a 
farce. A honest man becomes dishonest by association 
■with scamps of every degree, and his notion of paying his 
creditors by his industry soon seems to him preeminently 
ridiculous. The prison is a very jolly place as long as he 
has any money for beer and tobacco ; and if not, why he 
can get whitewashed, and can set up in business again 
with a fine stock of fraudulent " notions" acquired in prison. 
There is nothing like a prison for debt for sharpening the 
intellect. 

One afternoon, when Charley was growing rather tired 
of prison life, although he had only had three days of 
it — but the monotony was beginning to grow palling, and 
practical jokes cannot be laughed at always — he was in- 
formed that he was wanted at the door. On going out he 
found Mr. Sharpe waiting to speak to him, and the thought 
of revenge crossed his mind. But the difficulty was to get 
Mr. Sharpe in; he fought very cunning, and preferred 
keeping the bars betwixt him and Charles. At length the 
specious offer of a bottle of wine overcame all his wise reso- 
lutions, and he trusted himself in the prison, a lamb among 
the wolves 

On entering the ward Mr. Sharpe expressed his regret at 
bis client being in such an awkward predicament, and slated 
that he had tried haid to induce Mr. Amos to rescind his 
decision, but he was inexorable. The only thing that would 
eatisfy him would be, that my hero should give him autho. 



214 WILD OATS. 

rity to sell his reversion right out, and he would hand over 
the difference. But Charles had had hy this time sufficient 
experience of Mr. Amos and his tricks, and was determined 
to stay in prison for ever, sooner than give him further 
opportunity for plundering him. 

At this moment Mr. Bobbins came past, and Charley 
gave vent to an almost inaudible "miauw," which that 
gentleman perfectly comprehended, and went to work with 
a smiling face. Mr. Sharpe felt uncomfortable, but wisely 
said nothing to irritate his late, client. He finished the 
bottle, and then said he must see about getting back to 
business. Poor Mr. Sharpe ! better had he remained at 
his office than ventured into the lion's den. He had scarcely 
entered the yard ere an ominous cry of " Eat, rat ! " greeted 
his ears, and he was mobbed in a second. Some prisoners 
tore his coat up and jumped on his hat; others broke bags 
of flour over him, while Mr. Bobbins danced about insanely 
with a huge can of lime and water, which he impartially 
daubed over the unhappy attorney from head to foot. The 
turnkeys looked on placidly till the exasperated prisoners 
dragged their victim to the pump and nearly drowned him ; 
then they thought it time to interpose, and made a rush to 
save the unhappy man. With great difficulty they suc- 
ceeded in withdrawing him from their clutches, and got 
him half drowned into the lodge, where they wiped him 
down as well as they could, and turned him out with a 
recommendation not to trust himself there again, which, 
we may be quite sure, Mr. Sharpe vowed to remember. 

This was the last scene Charley was destined to witness 
in prison, for his uncle's lawyer, having by this time re- 
turned, took the matter seriously in hand. He saw Mr. 
Amos, and bullied him so heartily, by threatening that 
Charles would go through the court, and then the secrets of 
the office would be brought before the public, that Mr. 
Amos was very glad to be satisfied with a judgment bond, 
and agreed to let the matter stand over till Mr. Dashwood 
could settle his affairs. The discharge was then sent down, 
and my hero was at liberty to depart. This he took no 
long time in effecting ; and, after leaving all his loose silver 
to be spent in beer, he quitted Burdon's Hotel, accompanied 
by a hearty cheer from all the prisoners, and a sincere wish 
that he might not see the inside of a prison again. He 
was not fit for it they all agreed, and I think my readers 
will be of the same opinion. At any rate, Charles's desire 
of seeing life had been thus gratified ; and, though it was 



BURDONS HOTEL. 215 

one of its dirtiest phases, it may possibly prove of use to 
him hereafter. 

On gaining his liberty once more my hero hurried to 
Mr. Short's, to ask his advice as to what had better be 
done in the matter, that gentleman saying that, as he had 
been such a fool already, the only thing was to carry out 
his folly by the absolute sale of his reversion. Charley 
very simply suggested that Mr. Short should take the 
matter in hand ; but the little lawyer, having a very whole- 
some fear of Sir Amyas's wrath, declined interfering in the 
matter without that gentleman's consent. However, he 
said there would be no difficulty in finding a person willing 
to accommodate him, and bowed him out. 

Charles then went to look for his friend Leggitt, whom 
he found comfortably ensconced in a betting-office near 
Long Acre. The place was very flashily decorated with, 
pictures of celebrated racers, and there had been a lavish 
expenditure of mahogany and brass. He was in high 
spirits, and was doing an excellent business. There was 
only one horse that could hurt them, but he trusted to 
make that all right before the Derby day. He had not 
discounted Charley's bill yet, nor should he do so unless 
there was a pressure. Thence they proceeded to Tattersall's, 
and found Fitzspavin hail fellow well met with a sporting 
prize-fighter, in high spirits because he had made a capital 
book. 

Altogether, things looked very well, and Charles began 
to think that he would be able to repay Mr. Amos very 
shortly without having occasion to embarrass his reversion 
further. Full of this flattering tale, he wrote a long letter 
to Helen, in which he told her, very falsely, that he was 
busily engaged in trying to solve the mystery which 
separated them, and bade her hope for the best. This task 
completed, he went off to dine at Simpson's, and amused 
himself by seeing Mr. Wright in Paul Pry ; and if any of 
my readers can suggest a more infallible method of curiug 
low spirits, I would recommend him to advertise it at ouce, 
and he will be sure of making a rapid fortune. 



216 WILI) OATS. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

A MAK1UAGE IN HIGH LIFE. 



Belinda in tears and book-muslin frantically gnashes her 
handkerchief, and vows that no hard-hearted paternal decree 
shall separate her from the beloved of her heart, young 
Harry Rackett. With him love and a cottage would be 
elysium. What need they care for wealth or a roast turkey, 
when love and a mutton chop will prove all-sufficing ? True, 

Belinda! but the young Racketts, those sweet pledges of 
affection whom you do not take into account now, but who 
are sure to bear testimony to the love subsisting between 
you and your Harry ? Love is a very fine thing we are all 
ready to allow, but it does not pay a butcher's bill, nor will 
the evidence of your attachment satisfy Mr. Suett when he 
calls for your little account. Your wedding garments, too, 
will become shabby sooner or later, and I do not see how 
you can induce any draper to supply you with the necessary 
quantity of silk on the strength of your love. 

Believe me, Belinda, that your parents are acting all for 
the best, although you think them so hard-hearted. They 
know that your Harry is a spendthrift ensign, whose ability 
has hitherto been only evinced by running into debt, and 
they wisely prefer Mr. Ruggles, the eminent grocer, who 
has offered you his hand and his business, which you re- 
jected with a degree of contumely which that worthy man 
did not deserve. You must remember you have only seen 
the fair side of your Harry at present ; he has never as yet 
been compelled to go without any luxury he required, and 

1 can assure you does not intend to do set, although he may 
he so fond of you. If you marry him you may look out for 
matrimonial squalls, and by the time your spirit is broken 
;;ou will have degenerated into a miserable drudge, whom 
other parents will point out as a warning to their children. 

Come, I am glad to see you are listening to reason, 
Belinda. The thought of the comfortable house at Wood- 
ford, and the brougham in which you can go and make 
your purchases without stint, is having its due effect. 
Commou sense whispers, " Marry Ruggles and be happy," 
a»d romance is put to flight by the stern reality I have 



A MAERIAGE IN HIGH LIFE. 217 

conjured up. Twenty years hence, when you are in a con- 
dition to represent George the Fourth's idealism of a woman, 
you will see your old flame parading Regent Street with a 
fierce black moustache and a very red nose, looking under 
the bonnet of every girl who passes with a bold, audacious 
stare, and you will thank kind destiny for preserving you 
from such a man. But do not, with your natural goodness 
of heart, fancy that your separation from your Harry drove 
him to drown his despair in the bowl, as is only too plainly 
proved by his nose. Be assured that he was by nature "a 
selfish, worthlessfellow, and, not having you as his slave, be 
is not a bit the worse off on that account. Tour Buggies 
looks positively handsome by the side of that gallant officer, 
and you have learned to appreciate his good qualities. 
Then, Belinda, be warned, and remember that you strive 
sedulously to drive all such love-sick nonsense out of your 
daughters' minds. 

But mind me, I do not bid you treat your children in 
the way your respected parents thought they could only 
break your stubbornness. I do not recommend you to lock 
Sarah Jane into her bedroom, and condemn her to bread 
and water, because she has been fascinated by a young 
Adonis in the shape of a chemist's apprentice. 

" Be to her faults a little kind, 
And clap the padlock on her mind,'' 

is the advice that Prior gives us, and it is as true now as it 
was in his day. More can be done by persuasion than 
force, and it is not only the asinine tribe with which this 
great rule holds good. 

This long exordium is only intended as an introduction 
to the marriage of the Princess Bertha, who, by dint of 
Helen's persuasions and judicious use of threats, was 
brought to consent to the marriage with Prince Rubelskoff. 
But I do not think Helen was quite right in this matter. 
Although averse to those marriages of love which, as a rule, 
turn out a sad disappointment, on the other baud, I am 
equally opposed to the French plan, in which the young 
lady is sold to her future husband, and handed over to 
almost certain wretchedness. The plan may be found to 
work well in Stamboul ; but I doubt whether any Mahom- 
medan institutions can be engrafted with advantage on 
European habits. Although, then, agreeing with Helen 
that it was advisable to nip at once the absurd attachment 
to young Eckstein, I blame my heroine for rushing to the 



218 WILD OATS. 

other extreme, and forcing the Princess into a marriage 
which must be most distasteful for her. 

I fancy Helen herself felt a twinge as to the correctness 
of her policy, and deep anguish for the sacrifice of her mis- 
tress's young heart, when she saw the gentleman who was 
to become her husband. The Russians are by no means 
remarkable for good looks, the general impression they 
convey being that they must all have been sat upon, as to 
their faces, in extreme youth ; while the projecting cheek 
bones, the delight of the hybrid aristocracy, reveal the true 
Mongol type. The German heaviness which lurks about 
their faces indicates the admixture of blood ; while the 
stereotyped frown proves their dissatisfaction at their 
wretched social position. Qrattez le Russe et vous trouverez 
le Tatare was one of the wisest axioms of a very wise mau. 
I know that it will be alleged, in opposition to this, that 
the Emperor Nicholas was the handsomest man in Europe. 
This I am inclined to doubt. He was a very fine soldierly- 
looking man, it is true ; but his only claim to beauty is to 
be found in the fact that he was an exception to the general 
rule of ugliness peculiar to reigning houses on the con- 
tinent, which all bear a great resemblance in their features, 
owing to their in-and-in breeding. Take a portrait of 
Nicholas and examine it closely, and you will agree with 
me that the face is a most unpleasant one ; the feeling it 
conjures up is a devout gratitude that you are not exposed 
to the merciless decrees of such a tyrant, for despotism 
lurks in every line, and brutality lies in the wrinkles of the 
mouth. The eagle eye may be found, I grant ; but to me 
it only produces the impression of a foul, unclean bird of 
prey — I cannot trace the noble bird which soars in air, re- 
joicing in its liberty. Nor can it be urged that the stern 
despotic look I dislike is solely the result of the position the 
Czar held as uncontrolled ruler of thirty-five million slaves, 
who worshipped the Nemesis he represented, and hope- 
lessly sought the milder attributes of the divinity he aped. 
Take the present Emperor, who is regarded as a gentlo 
monarch — the same marked traits are visible in his counte- 
nance. Nero when young and Nero when old underwent 
no change of physiognomy except that natural on ad- 
vancing years. The tiger cub sports with you, the full-grown 
animal rends you to pieces; but in both cases it is true to 
its instincts. 

Prince Rubelskoff was probably the ugliest man among 
his fellows. His bald head and flat nose gave him the 



A MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE. 219 

appearance of a Silenus ; but, so soon as you scanned his 
face, you saw that there was none of that old god's joviality 
about him. Were the French, in any contingent revolution, 
to set up a male god of reason, Prince Rubelskoff would act 
the character admirably. There is nothing so fearful as the 
grin of the hyena, whatever Schiller may say to the contrary, 
except, perhaps, the look of a Eussian when he tries to 
smile his way into your confidence, you knowing the while 
he would gladly bury a knife in your heart. But the Prince 
was " all things to all men ; " he conversed fluently in every 
possible language but Russian, and never threw away a 
chance of exciting a friendly feeling. Even a servant was 
not beneath his fascination. Had he been seated with you 
in the dark you would have considered him the most perfect 
gentleman you had ever met with, but the first glare of 
candlelight would have destroyed the impression. The 
Prince knew there was afauve look about his face, and wore 
blue spectacles to conceal it, which, in my mind, only ren- 
dered him more like Jacques Ferrand than ever. 

Of course he made a perfect furore at Giirkenhof: the 
ladies of the court, with the feminine liking for mon- 
strosities, all went mad about him, and only proved the 
truth of John Wilkes' assertion, " that an ugly man was 
but half an hour behind the handsomest." His success at 
court was astounding, and the Grand Duke thought it high 
time that the marriage should take place, for the Prince paid 
too many visits to the Countess, and his senile vanity was 
roused. I do not think that the Countess, however, was 
really caught by the amiable man. I never knew a French- 
woman yet who obeyed the inspirations of her heart, and 
the Countess's fancy could hardly be caught by this Russian 
ogre. Still she was not averse to flattery (indeed, what 
woman is?), and the delicate attentions of the Prince, not 
to mention the large sums he lost to her at ecarte, were very 
pleasant. Besides, it drew her lord and master from flutter- 
ing round younger ladies, and the Countess was only too 
glad to be able to effect that without the vulgar necessity of 
a quarrel. 

The Princess Bertha was the only person at court ap- 
parently unaffected by the presence of the Russian On his 
presentation she bowed, and took a furtive glance at her 
future husband from beneath her long eyelashes ; but not & 
sign displayed her feelings. She received with equal indif- 
ference the magnificent jewels which the Prince sent her, 
and not even the malachite box in which they were con- 



220 WILD OATS. 

tained could draw a smile from her. There was something 
■very wrong, and Helen bitterly regretted the part she had 
played in what she now began to regard as a very iniqui- 
tous transaction. If black men were protected from slavery, 
d fortiori white women ought not to be sold into slavery, 
worse because the chains were gilded and flight was im- 
possible. 

Such being the state of things, Helen strove diligently to 
teach her pupil to regard the holy estate of matrimony as a 
solemn institution, which must not be lightly entered into, 
but approached with a pure and reverent spirit ; but she 
was disarmed at once by the Princess saying, " You wished 
this marriage: all I ask is, let me carve out my lot after my 
own fashion. The daughter of the Grand Duke will be true 
to herself." 

" But, Bertha dearest, you mistake me. I only wished to 
eave you from the certain misery of flight with young Eck- 
stein, and " 

" You have helped to force me into this marriage. I trust 
you are satisfied with your achievement. Am I not to be 
envied? Look at all those jewels — my purchase money; 
that magnificent lace veil, which is to be spread over the 
victim as it is led to the altar; think of my palace in 
St. Petersburg, and my magnificent prospects. What is a 
broken heart in comparison with such worldly bless- 
iDgs?" 

" Dearest Bertha, you terrify me. I thought you were 
willing to accede to this marriage. You expressed your 
readiness to receive the Prince, and, now that he has 
arrived, it is too late to break off. The esclandre would be 
too great." 

" And who wishes to break it off? Not I. You told me 
that in the event of my refusal you would be compelled to 
make known my deplorable folly with young Eckstein. 
Does my pride go for nothing? Do you imagine the 
Princess Bertha could survive the knowledge that the ladies 
of the court were smiling at her intrigue with a court page? 
No ! you may be quite calm ; I do not love young Eckstein 
now. At times I doubt whether I ever felt anything be- 
yond gratitude to him for trying to extricate me from my 
position. I am a woman now, and will put away all 
childish things. But one thing I must ask you, dear 
Helen — do not talk to me of religion, or of matrimony being 
a holy rite. Let me have my faith to console me in my 
trials. If you deprive me of that by forcing me to believe 



A MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE. 221 

in the sanctity of this shameful mockery, I shall be truly 
miserable." 

" Bertha, it grieves me to find you giving way to such a 
temper, and to feel that all my teaching has been in vain. 
Self-willed I knew you were, but I did not think that you 
would blight your prospects of happiness so recklessly, 
merely because you were thwarted in your wishes. Why 
did you not confide in me, dearest child? I might have 
averted this odious marriage : but now you have given your 
consent, and must go through with your self-imposed task. 
Let me hope that the spirit of religion to which you have 
alluded will sustain you ; but I fear " 

"What, my Helen? Oh ! I shall be an excellent wife. 
I have no doubt the Prince will prove a model husband, 
so cheer up, mignonne, and let us talk about other matters. 
You saw the Tulpenhain this morning: what does she 
say about the marriage ?" 

" The Countess is well pleased, as you may suppose, and 
is anxious that the marriage shall take place as speedily as 
possible. She has offered dowries for five young maidens 
who are to be married on the same day as yourself." 

" Money, money, always ! Why does she want to make 
others wretched as well as myself? Oh ! this is a strange 
world, Helen. Thank God, I feel that I shall not be in it 
long ! " 

" Foolish fancies, dearest. Once at St. Petersburg and the 
admiration of a brilliant court, these sickly ideas will be 
dissipated. You have many years of happiness in store for 
you, if you will only regard matters with a contented spirit." 

" Well, well, enough of this," said the Princess pettishly; 
" and now for our walk." 

Such were some of the trying scenes to which Helen was 
subjected by the Princess's approaching marriage, and she 
more and more regretted that she had, in a manner, forced 
her into so anomalous a position. But there was no 
resource left; the marriage could not be prevented; the 
Grand Duke had set his heart on it, and was only awaiting 
its conclusion to go for his usual summer excursion to 
Pyrmont ; so Helen with a sad heart watched the prepara- 
tions, and tried more and more patiently to read her pupil's 
mind, which had become a sealed book for her. But the 
Princess did not undergo the slightest change; she stiU 
kept up the old stolid indifference, and did not seem moved 
by all the attentions bestowed on her by Prince Rubelskoff, 
or the affectionate endearments of her father. She declined 



222 WILD OATS. 

Helen s offer to accompany her to St. Petersburg, as if 
determined to break off every link which attached her to 
home. The only thing in which she evinced any interest 
was in attending to Helen's future interests, and it was 
eventually decided that she should go and live with the 
Countess Tulpenhain as dame de compaguie until some 
arrangements could be made for her future welfare, as both. 
the Grand Duke and the Princess wished that she should be 
amply rewarded for her past devotion to them. 

The morning broke gloomily on which the wedding 
solemnity was to take place ; but the clouds gradually dis- 
persed, and the sun shone out brilliantly. May it prove a 
happy omen of the Princess's future life ! The citizens had 
made the requisite preparations in honour of their young 
mistress's departure from among them, and triumphal 
arches and banners evinced their loyalty. There was the 
usual amount of intoxication required on such interesting 
occasions, and many a blushing girl caught the infection, 
and fixed the day for her own wedding. 

The ceremony took place in the private chapel of the 
palace, the whole court being invited to attend. It was 
noticed that a faint blush suffused the Princess's face as she 
passed through the double line of court pages; but this was 
the only evidence of her being more than a machine. Helen 
watched her closely, fearing she knew not what might im- 
pede the celebration of the marriage. But her fears were 
not realised : the Princess was married according to the rites 
of the Greek church, receiving the name of Vassilovka, and 
the court banquet terminated the proceedings. Within an 
hour the married couple started for Vevay, where they were 
to spend the honeymoon. 

The court seemed very dull to Helen after the departure 
of her pupil, and she amused herself as well as she could by 
making preparations for migrating to the Countess's house, 
and packing up the trifling presents she had consented to 
receive as remembrances of the Princess. She was inter- 
rupted, however, by a circumstance which took a load from 
her heart, and made her feel happier than she had done for 
months It was very simple, being merely a letter from 
Julie, dated at some impossible place in Carinthia. She had 
not yet been able to find her truant Count, but was on his 
track ; but she was now in want of money, and begged Helen 
to send her five hundred francs to the poste restante at 
Trieste. The letter then went on : — 

"I know your good heart, Miss Heleu, and that you will 



A MARRIAGE IN HIGH Lli'E. 223 

send me this money without any further explanation on my 
part ; but I may tell you that it depends on my finding the 
Count whether you will ever be able to prove your legiti- 
macy. He carried off all the papers poor Madame had, and 
these should have been mine had not the villain deceived 
me so cruelly. But be under no alarm ; he must suffer for 
his crime, and Julie is predestined to be the instrument of 
vengeance. I will not tell you who your father is, from the 
uselessness of raising hopes which can only be realised by 
the recovery of the papers. Better you should remain in 
ignorance than appeal to a father who will only recognise 
you when compelled to do so by law. But one thing 1 may 
say now to ease your mind. Mr. Charles is not your brother, 
and there is no impediment to your marriage. Ah ! had 
I not listened to the insidious schemes of the Count, all 
might have turned out happily for you before now; but it is 
in God's hand." 

My readers can imagine the sudden revulsion the receipt 
of this letter produced in Helen. Although she had long felt 
assured that her poor mother had purposely deceived her, 
this confirmation exceeded her hopes. There was, then, no 
obstacle to her marriage with Charles ; but stay, she could 
not consent to marry him until her legitimacy were proved. 
His son must not be liable to have his mother's reproach 
cast in his teeth. No, she must wait and hope. Julie spoke 
so assuredly of being able to procure the requisite papers, 
she believed the woman meant honestly by her, and was de- 
termined to revenge herself on the Count after her own 
fashion. At any rate, there should be no obstacle in her 
way as far as money was concerned, so she sent off ^50 at 
once to Trieste. But the post in Germany is proverbially 
slow, and long before the letter reached its destination 
Julie had started for Turkey, whither she heard that the 
Count had gone. He felt that Julie was on his track, and 
he thought it best to migrate to a country where such a 
trifle as having committed a murder does not weigh much 
with the authorities, so long as you have money in your 
pocket to be robbed of. Hereafter we shall see whether 
Julie carried her vow into execution ; but I am inclined to 
think she will, for she is both a woman and a Corsican, and 
not at all disposed to be robbed of her revenge. 

In the meanwhile my Helen retired to the Countess 
Tulpenhain, who received her with great distinction, and 
conferred on her the remarkable honour of allowing her to 
teach her macaw English. Very good society met at her 



224 WILD OATS. 

bouse, for in Germany the Countess's position is one of 
every day, and no one is unwilling to associate with her so 
long as she keeps within bounds. Here and there a noble of 
the old school might object to his wife or his daughter put- 
ting a bar sinister across their two-and-thirty quarterings by 
mixing in society with a French milliner and left-handed 
wife ; but, as a general rule, people were less straitlaced. 
At any rate, to make up for this, the company was very 
amusing, and the Grand Duke used to bring all the letters 
he received from his daughter, and read them in solemn 
conclave. 

Helen was pleased to find that her pupil wrote in better 
spirits; the lovely scenery round Vevay had a soothing 
effect on her temper, and the immense reverence paid to her 
as Princess Rubelskoff, fourteenth cousin to His Majesty the 
Emperor, had its proper effect. Having a strong natural 
turn for satire, her letters ran over with absurd remarks 
about the people who were presented to her, and it seemed 
that she could do what she liked with the Prince, who was 
very proud of his lovely German wife, and treated her like 
a valuable toy which he was afraid of breaking. Whether 
this mode of treating a young lady who had carefully studied 
Tennyson's " Princess" was the best, I may be disposed 
to doubt ; but, at any rate, there can be no question but that 
the Princess had already weighed the distinction between a 
palace with the Prince and a cottage with the Count, and 
the scale was slowly sinking in favour of the former. 

If the marriage eventually turn out happily, all the 
better ; but I am sadly afraid that in this instance the 
Princess has gone to the other extreme. "Love and a 
cottage" may be absurd; but "misery and a palace " are 
probably many degrees worse. Let us trust that she may 
be spared from that fate. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

THE DERBY DAY. 



The Derby day ! What wondrous reminiscences are evoked 
by that word ! What magnificent headaches, hanging 
about one for a week or so, have followed on the " day 
at the Derby !" What kaleidoscopic pictures made of orange. 



TIIE DERBY DAT. 225 

red, white, blue, green, and black hover about one's dreams 
for a week afterwards. Dorling's " corre-card," as uttered in 
the raucous voice of countless cads, rings in one's ears, and 
laughs the Bank ! Bank! and Hansom, sir? to scorn. As 
you walk along the streets you think every person you meet 
a turf man, and you address respectable city men with, 
" Take you ten to one on Barber," or so on. 

But the anticipations of the Derby are more surprising 
still. I abstract all considerations as to the relative merits 
of blue or green veils, road or rail, champagne or porter : 
whether North or South will prove the victor at the 
" Isthmian games" is a matter of supremest indifference to 
nine-tenths of the visitors. Perhaps, were there no horses 
at all, it would be just the same. All they care for is one 
day free from the burly and brattle of business, and the 
possibility of getting drunk without any customer having 
a right to blame you for it. The attorney's clerks, who risk 
their necks at seven and sixpence from the Elephant and 
Castle behind the most extraordinary team which is re- 
served from the knacker's yard for that day only, and who 
manage to get on the course just after the race is run, are 
not so greatly disappointed after all. To them the Derby 
is an idealism of porter and tobacco, and, so long as they 
have their day out, the race is but the mere excuse, unless 
they indulge in a " sweep," condemning them to an outlay 
of half-crowns, and there is considerable excitement attach- 
ing to the winner. 

The ladies, too (bless their hearts!) what do they care 
whether my Lord Delaflatte's bay colt Dauntless or Mr. 
M'Cleverley's Ratcatcher is first past the winning-post? 
whether orange and blue sleeves or white and yellow be 
the first to catch the judge's eye? It is true they bet fero- 
ciously, and the contents of Jouvin's glove shop are trans- 
ferred with the fate of the Derby; but then the darlings are 
on the safe side. Catch a woman paying a bet, or neglect- 
ing to remind you if she happen to be the winner. Pater- 
familias, with a family of pretty daughters launched in 
good society, cannot do better than charter a barouche for 
the Derby day. Even if he add to it a hamper from 
F. and M.'s, and a case or so of champagne, the gloves won 
by the ladies will represent a considerable saving at the 
end of a year. And then the hearty way in which the dear 
creatures positively drink their champagne : they do not 
nip at it like birds drinking out of their water trough, 
taking only a bead as a mouthful. At the Derby every. 

9 



226 WILD OATS. 

thing is permissible, even to a lady clipping her Grecian 
beak into a pot of heavy ! and the hearty way in whieh 
they dispose of the pigeon pie and lobster salad is quite 
refreshing, and removes the notion that our young ladies 
are ethereal beings, dining on a butterfly's wing, when 
you happen to meet them at Thompson's or Jobson's 
hospitable board. 

I think we have to thank Mr. Leech for doing away with 
this among the thousand other social humbugs he has as- 
sailed. It would be absurd to suppose that those plump 
young ladies in the tightest of riding habits and most be- 
witching of hats are innocent of honest beef, mayhap of 
beer; and the heartfelt gratitude of materfamilias with 
the large family of daughters is due to our talented artist, 
for inducing our young men to believe that those blushing 
beings in crinoline and book-muslin are real flesh and 
blood, amenable with themselves to the delicious influences 
of hunger. It is wonderful what an effect this has on 
young men; for, after all, the way to the heart is through 
the stomach. 

But there is one other class to whom the Derby is fraught 
with peculiar fascination — I allude to those green young 
gentlemen who fancy themselves uncommonly sharp fellows, 
and come out alarmingly every Derby day. For them the 
blue bird's-eye scarf with the horseshoe pin was invented; 
for them that abomination, the single-breasted green cut- 
away coat, is still retained on the tailor's books of fashion ; 
for these gentlemen dress the sportsman, and fancy this 
will be an infallible way of winning money. Another in- 
dispensable item is a racing opera-glass slung across their 
shoulders, which in nine cases out often is cut away before 
they return home. These misguided individuals are the 
legitimate prey of the professional betting-man, who, like 
poets, is born, not made. No style of dress will bring with 
it that peculiar talent which enables turfmen to make a 
tidy living by betting; nor can it be said that they have 
bought experience, for they rarely have any money which 
they could lay out for that valuable commodity. 

Of the first class Charles Dashwood was a good specimen ; 
of the second, Mr. Leggitt. They were both imbued with 
the same honest principles, which in Mr. Leggitt had so far 
degenerated that, if luck were perverse, he would be quite 
ready to levant, till some combination enabled hirn to pay 
off his encumbrances, while Charles would have been 
horror-struck at the notion of. owing any play debts, and 



THE DERBY DAT. 227 

would never rest till he had paid them. By some mental 
obliquity, however, he never thought about his tradesmen's 
bills; they might wait and take their chance. It is curious 
what a narrow line society is disposed to draw between the 
two ; but I am glad to find that the practicality of the age 
is producing a good effect. It is no longer thought a feather 
in a man's cap to swindle a tradesman, and society fights 
shy of gentlemen who have spent a portion of their very 
ephemeral existence in the Queen's Bench. I do not think 
that an epitaph to the effect that Lord Bolter lies buried 
here, " deeply regretted by his numerous creditors," would 
at the present time produce any other feeling than one of 
disgust. 

But I cannot say that Mr. Leggitt was to be blamed for 
these ideas; his obliquity was the product of his education. 
Brought up in a racing stable, and eminent as a light, 
weight rider, he had at an early age been initiated in all 
the foul devices which disgrace our national institution. 
When fat grew upon him, and he was no longer able to 
play his distinguished part in the pigskin, some noblemen 
patronised him, and employed him as a commission agent. 
Tattersall's did not improve his morality, and the nume- 
rous defaulters whom he found cursed as swindlers when 
they bolted, and greeted as paragons of honour when they 
returned to pay their bets, soon blunted his moral feeling. 
Not that he was not as honest as before : he would not have 
wronged a noble client of a shilling ; but he began to grow 
dissatisfied with his position, and wanted to make a fortune 
at a single blow. The betting-office scheme occurred to 
him, and with Charley's assistance he had carried it out. 
The knowledge he had acquired through his apprenticeship 
served him in good stead, and he was in a fair way of gain- 
ing a large stake. Only one horse, Bloodsucker, now at 
twenty-five to one, appeared dangerous, and he intended to 
employ Charley to make him safe on that score; so under 
the best possible auspices they started in a hired barouche 
to be present at the memorable Derby. 

Who has not once in his life enjoyed that extraordinary 
sight presented by the " road " on a Derby day? Some old 
laudator temporis acti may shake his venerable head at the 
railway, and say that the road is nothing compared to what 
it was in his time; but I do not believe him. I cannot con- 
ceive how more vehicles could be collected; when a triple 
file, of carriages is moving slowly along in one direction, and 
being checked at intervals by a playful horse jibbing right 



228 WILD OATS. 

across the toll-bar, I do not see where there would be room 
for more. I am willing to concede to old Grumbleton that the 
character of the machines has fallen off; donkey carts and 
trucks may have usurped, to a great extent, the place of the 
four-in-hand drags; but, on the other hand, the fun has in- 
creased in an equal ratio. The solemn swells whose whole 
mind was in the ribbons, and who would have broken 
their hearts at any clumsy locking of a wheel, have given, 
up the road; but I do not regard that as any peculiar loss. 
There are plenty of four-in-hands still to be seen, and, what 
is better far, filled with jolly men and women, who are de- 
termined to make a holiday of it, and have a perennial tap 
of porter at each end of the van. It is true that now aud 
then, on their return, they set light to the straw at the 
oottom, and succeed in burning some one to death; but even 
that, as a practical joke, they have probably learned from 
their betters, who considered it an exquisite lark to throw 
bags of flour and rotten eggs at the passers by. At any rate, 
they do not break their word of honour as officers and 
gentlemen, to escape a very well-merited chastisement. 

Be this as it may, Charles Dashwood was in no humour 
to be critical. He had never been to the Derby before by road, 
and there was abundant material for amusement. All along 
pleasant Mitcham the gardeus were thronged with pretty 
servant girls, who had mounted new caps for the occasion, 
and unaccountably thrust themselves in the way of the chaff- 
ing and jokes. Every public-house was beset by thirsty souls, 
who insisted on all being served first, and rendered con- 
fusion worse confounded. Here and there a trap had broken 
down, aud the unhappy owner had to endure not only his 
own disappointment, but the unextinguishable laughter of 
all the passers by. Then sturdy men trudged along the 
footpath, carrying their coats slung on a stick, and invulne- 
rable to remarks. They were determined to see the race, and 
It was a matter of perfect indifference to them what people 
said about their preference to walk. At intervals a fierce 
combat would be taking place between irate costermongers 
and grooms, who were attempting to remove the donkey- 
dragged truck out of the way of their noble masters, and were 
generally ignominiously defeated; for during our saturnalia 
the strongest spirit of republicanism prevails, aud our 
Helots are equal to our patres conscripti. 

Then came that interminable pull up the hill on to the 
course, which is the stumblingblock to so many gallant 
steeds, and causing the services of innumerable cads to bo 



THE DERBY DAY. 229 

enlisted to force the vehicle up the ascent. Then the confu- 
sion on the course — the brushing down and boot-cleaning — 
the champagne at Careless's to wash the dust down — the 
walk to the paddock to inspect the horses — the welkin-rend- 
ing shouts in the ring — the magnificent array of gaily dressed 
ladies in the grand stand, the sun the while shining as it 
only can on a Derby day — the double lines of carriages 
thronged with laughing, chatting, merry beings — the row of 
countless spectators, extending from the corner past the 
winning-post, standing patiently for hours to see the horses 
flash past, and shout the name of the winner — all this is a 
wonderful sight, and gives a foreigner an idea of England 
as it is. What hope could the most red of republicans have 
of inciting a revolution among a set of beings who shook 
their fetters so gladly? I remember once hearing the great 
Caussidiere say that a people which thus forgot the pressure 
of taxation in child's play was unworthy of liberty. 
Certainly, I agree with him, unworthy of liberty as he re- 
garded it, but most worthy of that freedom which brings the 
highest and the lowest together for one day in the year, and 
gives the poorest mechanic an opportunity of resting from 
his toil. 

Along the road Mr. Leggitt was unaccountably nervous, 
and impressed on Charley the necessity of making Blood- 
sucker safe. He had spent the previous night in reckoning 
up his liabilities, and was startled at finding how much he 
stood to lose on that horse. Still he could not have avoided 
it. During the winter Bloodsucker had been first favourite 
for the Derby; and Leggitt, true to his principle of betting 
all round, had laid against him to a considerable extent. 
He had been first favourite for the " two thousand," and 
had come in last but one ; and so far Mr. Leggitt was safe. 
Since that period the public had neglected the horse almost 
entirely, and in the betting ring he was nearly forgotten. 
He now stood at twenty-five to one ; and, to make assur- 
ance doubly sure, Mr. Leggitt determined on putting 
£300 upon him, which would insure him against all 
accidents. 

" So Charley, my boy, you see," he wound up his exhorta- 
tion, " I want you to back Bloodsucker for two hundred 
on the quiet; you'll be able to get long odds, and then any 
way we stand to win a couple of thousand." 

How could Charley be otherwise than delighted at such 
prospects? He felt certain that he had now hit upon the 
right track to fortune, and would soon gain sufficient to set 



230 WILD OATS. 

him up, in the teeth of Mr. Amos. With these pleasing 
notions he paid very little attention to the loss of his watch, 
which was very cleverly conjured out of his pocket by some 
gentleman, whose dexterity would render him a famous 
successor to Professor Anderson. He made his way to the 
betting ring in search of Fitzspavin, and at length found 
that worthy gentleman with his favourite prize-fighter, 
busily engaged in laying odds apparently about everything. 

" Well, Fitzspavin, how do you stand about Blood- 
sucker ? " 

" Oh ! I am open. Are you sweet upon him ?" 

" Well, I don't mind backing him for a hundred, if you 
like, at twenty-fives." 

" Can't do it, my boy; not a point more than twenty-two 
If that suits your book I m your man." 

" Well, suppose we say twenty-twos, I am willing." 

"I can accommodate the gent at the same terms, if he's 
agreeable," added Mr. Knuckles, the prize-fighter, addressing 
no one in particular, but looking fixedly at a stray dog. 

" Done with you," said Charles; and the bets were duly 
entered. 

By this time preparations were being made for the great 
event, and the police commencing their apparently hopeless 
task of clearing the course. It seemed as if the attempted 
rushes of the serried phalanx would be about as useful as 
throwing an India-rubber ball against the walls of Sevas- 
topol; but that wondrous respect the English entertain for 
the law, as personified in an individual wearing a number, 
asserted its sway here. In an incredibly short space of 
time the throng was separated and impelled under the 
barriers on either side, and the police followed up their 
victory by pouncing on everybody who ventured to break 
the line. At last not a soul was visible, and the preliminary 
race took place with that historic dog who rushes down the 
course, pursued by ten thousand yells, and disappears the 
Lord knows where. I have studied that dog carefully, and 
the only solution I can offer is that he is a monomaniac, 
bitten by a desire for notoriety. If it be so, he certainly 
meets with decided success, for never does a dog create 
such a sensation on any other occasion. 

The horses cantered past, led by the old gentleman in the 
red coat, whose hunting days must be long gone, and who 
only mounts the coat as a mark of distinction, and Blood- 
sucker looked in such blooming condition that Charley was 
very glad he had succeeded in hedging to so large an 



THE DERBY DAY. 231 

amount. Then came the marshalling in line ; the repeated 
false starts, raising the popular excitement to the highest 
pitch ; then the cry running along the line like a platoon 
fire, "They re off, they 're off!" the strained expectation, 
every neck seeming to grow doubly long, as the mob laid 
over the rail, striving to catch the first glance of the horses 
as they came round the corner; then the shouts, " Dulcimer 
wins ! " " No, it 's Heretic ! " " Bloodsucker is coming up ! " 
Along the horses flew, maddened by the shouts and the 
fearful spurs. In a second they were past the winning- 
post, the first two so close that it seemed impossible to 
decide which had won. But the judge soon put an end 
to the suspense by placarding No. 18, and many an anxious 
glance at the card proved that " Bloodsucker" had gained 
for his owner the " blue ribbon " of the Derby. 

No end to the popping of champagne corks and unpack- 
ing of hampers : dire the annoyance of finding the pickle-jar 
broken into the cherry tart, and the pigeon pie improved by 
the vinegar rendering it a pulp : no matter whether salad 
dressing were forgotten, or no glasses present to drink from 
— such are mere trifles on a Derby day. Even the man who 
has lost thousands does not lose his appetite, and no thoughts 
of black Tuesday are allowed to cross his mind. To-day must 
be devoted exclusively to mirth — repentance may come to- 
morrow. Then, the Oaks give a chance of retrieval : all is 
not lost yet ; so hang care, and, devil take you, the bottle 'a 
empty. 

It was, indeed, a glorious time for the Zingari, who appear 
to have a patent as scavengers of the course. I have visited 
Epsom a week after the festival, and have not found so much 
as a bone left to indicate the great gobbling place of the 
nation. Not that the gipsies confine their attention to 
broken meat and empty bottles ; but it is one of their func- 
tions to act as human vultures, clearing away the garbage. 
Under the pretence of fortune -telling they whipped away 
many a valuable shawl, and displayed their taste for 
jewellery by stealing watches and brooches; but that is one 
of the penalties you must pay for going to the Derby, and is 
generally regarded in a most philosophic spirit. The second 
column of the Times is a perfect study for a week after the 
races. I wonder whether any of the victims ever do get 
their watches back, or whether the advertisement is only 
throwing good money after bad. 

Charles did not pause to look at any of the countless amuse- 
ments which would otherwise have stopped him, so anxious 



232 WILD OATS. 

was he to find Leggitt, and congratulate him of their success. 
But in vain he searched for him in the ring and through 
the grand stand, and at length was going to give him up 
in despair, when he saw him emerging from a small booth, 
With a pot of porter in his hand. 

" Ah, Charley, my boy, that 's a queer lot, ain't it? I 'm 
afraid it's all dp with Mr. Thomas Leggitt. Well, hang 
care, who's afraid? I looks towards you. Never say die. 
Fol di rol ! " 

[Which was Mr. Leggitt's peculiar method of indicating 
his sorrow, and proving there was life in the old horse yet.] 

" Nonsense, man ! Don't you know I 've won .£4,400 ? " 

" I know all about it, and a little more than you do. You 
have won ,£2,200 from Mr. Fitzspavin; ditto from Mr. 
Knuckles. I only hope you tnay get it. Here's luck !" 

" What 's the matter, Leggitt ? I never saw you like this 
before." 

" The matter is this, my boy. Mr. Fitzspavin has lost 
£40,000, and won't pay so many pence. Mr. Knuckles was 
his confederate, and between them they tried to boil a very 
pretty pot, which has put the fire out. Mr. Fitzspavin is 
by this time on his road to London, and I suppose to-night 
will be in Paris, while Mr. Knuckles will go for a profes- 
sional tour in the provinces." 

Here was a sudden blow. All poor Charley's air-built 
castles had collapsed, and he was worse off than ever. His 
looks plainly betrayed his feelings, and so Leggitt took 
compassion on him. 

"Here, my boy, have a drain. You were a good friend 
to me when I wanted one, and sha'n't be a loser. Nobody 
knows you had anything to do with the betting- office. 
Here s your bill and the seventy skiv you advanced. Hang 
it all, Thomas Leggitt may be a rogue through the pressure 
of circumstances, but it sha'n't be said he ever robbed a 
friend." 

" No, no, that won't do, Leggitt; I can't take the money 
back. You '11 want it yourself, and I deserve to be a loser." 

" You re a young ass, and don't know what you re talking 
about: I sha'n't be any loser by the affair. I must shut up 
shop for the present; but I shall see if I can't get some 
money from my brother to stave off ruin. P'raps he'll 
come forward this time and help me ; if not, I 'm off to 
Paris, and, if I catch Mr. Fitzspavin, 1 11 try if I can t 
thrash some of the money out of his honourable carcass." 

No persuasion on Charley's part could induce this strange 



THE ROAD TO RUIN. 233 

mixture of good and evil to touch a penny of the money, 
and so, after another pot of porter, they parted. Charles 
then had to undergo the pleasing punishment of studying 
his own private betting-book, and found that he had 
admirably contrived to lose .£400, which must be met 
by next Tuesday, if he wished to keep his good name. 
But he quite made up his mind not to touch gambling any 
more, for he now saw that, though he might be sharp him- 
self, he had found a sharper in Mr. Fitzspavin, and the best 
way would be to pay the money at once, and have done 
with the turf for ever. But how? That was the difficulty. 
The only hope seemed to be in mortgaging the reversion 
again, and so raising the money. He would not go to 
Mr. Amos; shame prevented him applying to Mr. Short, 
when suddenly he remembered an address Leggitt had 
given him of a city lawyer, whom he described as an 
honest man. 

To this gentleman he determined to apply the very next 
day, and, heartily sick of the Derby, he returned to town 
in solitary grandeur, and vented his spite by giving a 
tremendous thrashing to an unhappy lawyer's clerk who 
dared to insult his majesty by throwing a bag of flour at 
his hat. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

THE EOAD TO RUIN. 



Mr. Ebenezer Cantor was a very different sort of attor- 
ney from those whom Charley had hitherto met with. 
Dressed in a shabby suit of professional black and a ropy 
white choker, he sat in a dingy office in a back lane of the 
city at the receipt of custom. He was highly respected 
and respectable in the pleasant haunts of Clapham, and his 
fame had extended to sober Streatham, where he had spe- 
culated successfully in building various " Ebenezers" for 
the welfare of his fellow-men and the glorification of his 
own name. He was addicted to the use of " thou" in his 
conversation, and affected the word "carnal," which he 
applied to the most heterogeneous subjects. As a general 
rule avoid such men. 
Mr. Cantor listened placidly as Charley unfolded his 



234 



WILD OATS. 



tale, and did not interrupt him once. When possessed of 
the whole facts he said solemnly, — 

'I My Christian friend, thou hast fallen into the hands ot 
Philistines who have shorn thee; ay, verily, as Dalilah cut 
the hair of Samson. It is fortunate for thee that thou hast 
now met with a professing Christian, who will regard thy 
interests as his own. It heseemeth me not to glorify my- 
self; but thou wouldst do right to indict the sinful Mr. 
Sharpe, who is a disgrace to the honourable profession of 
which I am a member. And thou sayest that thou requirest 
.£400, and that quickly, to pay moneys lost in the carnal 
pursuit of horse-racing. My principles will not allow 
me to advance the money, which, had it been intended 
for some holy object, I would gladly have done at a 
low rate of interest, for I am not of those who prey on the 
fatherless." 

" Then I am afraid, Mr. Cantor, I must go elsewhere, 
for the money I must have by Monday at latest; so good 
morning." 

" Stay, young friend; methinks thou art impetuous. Oh, 
curb thy sinful nature ! Hadst thou not been so eager, I 
would have added that I have a worldly client who is will- 
ing to lend out moneys ; but, alas ! he indulgeth in usury, 
and I fear that he will not let thee have the money, 
supposing the security be good, under thirty per cent. 
Of a verity it grieveth me to be mixed up in such 
carnal transactions, but the interests of my family compel 
me to do much which is most repugnant to my Christian 
feelings." 

" Oh ! I have no objection to pay thirty per cent, if I can 
have the money to-morrow." 

" Well, then, my young friend, if thou wilt leave the 
requisite documents I will inspect them, and, if satisfactory, 
I will have a mortgage deed drawn up. Call thou to- 
morrow at the hour of twelve, and the answer or the money 
shall await thee." 

Mr. Cantor's worldly client appeared satisfied with the 
security, for he expressed no unwillingness to advance ,£400 ; 
in consideration of a further mortgage of J520 on the re- 
version, and the additional security of three months' bills. 
Charles, driven into a corner as he was, had no alternative 
but to consent to the exorbitant terms, and, leaving instruc- 
tions with Mr. Cantor that he should look out for a pur- 
chaser for the reversion, he went to pay off all claims 
upon him, and patiently awaited the end. 



THE ROAD TO RUIN. 235 

But the sale of the reversion went on very slowly. 
Several insurance offices nibbled at it, until one clever ac- 
countant detected apparently a fatal flaw in old Sir Amyas's 
will. It seemed that worthy man had left the .£5000, 
then in Bank stock, to pay £250 per annum for life to his 
eldest son, not dreaming that our government would ever be 
forced into the necessity of reducing the interest. It then 
became a question, on the discovery of this clause, whether 
Sir Amyas Dashwood might not lay claim to have bis 
income brought up to that amount out of the capital, and 
demand the payment of back stoppages at the same time. 
This was a glorious bone of contention for the lawyers, 
and the " Dashwood reversion" was quoted in every coun- 
sel's chambers. Guineas unnumbere-d were paid out of 
Charles's pocket to settle this moot point, and the counsel 
were fairly divided on the subject. In the meantime the bills 
for the £400 had to be renewed at a further expense of £50, 
and I think Charles is fairly started on the road to ruin. 
All this while, however, Mr. Cantor neglected no oppor- 
tunity to impart holy teaching to his young client, whom 
he regarded in the light of a recreant, and would gladly 
have called back to the right path. But Charley, from his 
Oxford education, had a most hearty detestation of all 
chapels, which he profanely called " schism shops," and 
could not be induced to enter " Ebenezer," though he had 
no objection to dine at Mr. Cantor's on Sundays, and in- 
dulge in his splendid old port, which that worthy gentleman 
regarded as a carnal delectation, but still comforting to the 
inner man. 

While the debatable land of law was being fought inch 
by inch by the several counsel engaged on the Dashwood 
reversion, Mr. Cantor occupied himself by looking out for a 
possible purchaser. Charles growing impatient, the lawyer 
suggested that he would purchase the reversion at all risks, 
and offered him £1,700, which he declared was the fair 
market value between man and man. Charles was inclined 
to accept this offer, much beneath his expectation though it 
was ; but he learned a fact which threw light on Mr. Can- 
tor's offer, and made him regard that gentleman's religious 
motives as somewhat suspicious. The news, namely, had 
arrived in England that Sir Amyas was dangerously ill, 
and the reversion jumped up in value £200 at once. Still 
the knotty point was not decided by the lawyers, who most 
impartially enlisted themselves in the opposing bands, and 
there seemed no chance of obtaining a decided verdict, ex.- 



236 WILD OATS. 

eept by throwing the property into chancery, which the 
Lord forbid, even to my enemies. 

At last one fine day Mr. Cantor announced, with great 
inward satisfaction, that he had succeeded in procuring a 
bona fide purchaser, prepared to buy the reversion for 
;£2,000, on condition that Charles should give a guarantee 
that he would repay the difference in the event of the 
question ever being brought before a court of law, and 
decided in Sir Amy as' s favour. In somewhere about three 
weeks the necessary indentures were drawn up, notice given 
to the several mortgagees, and the tedious business appeared 
destined to reach a satisfactory conclusion at last. 

As everything now-a-days is done by companies, so 
Charles Dashwood's reversion was purchased by a great 
eity lawyer, and otherwise very little man, acting on 
behalf of the Friends of Humanity Insurance Company. 
As this worthy gentleman happened to be a doorkeeper, 
or something of that sort, at the Clerkenwell Sessions, 
he ordered the business to be transacted in his private 
room, where the parties were summoned. Of course, being 
in an official capacity, Mr. Pincer could not be expected 
to act as a gentleman ; so Charles need not have felt 
surprised at his keeping on his hat during the whole of the 
interview, and, in consideration of his gown, showing off 
most unwarrantable airs. But then Mr. Pincer was a true 
blue democrat ; that is to say, he bullied everybody whom 
accident placed in his power, and licked the dust off the 
boots of those above him, and by this simple process he had 
got on in the world, and tried to get into parliament once 
on the religious interest. Fortunately for the reporters the 
townsfolk had too much sense to return him, and he sank 
into his nothingness again. I sincerely pitied his clerks for 
the fortnight after his defeat. 

In the city, however, Mr. Pincer was a wonderful man, 
and made very nice pickings indeed out of the various com- 
panies with which he was connected. He had the permis- 
sion to address the lord mayor during his tenure of office as 
plain Mr., and generally went in for the corporation 
being a humbug. Soon after he was elected a Deputy 
to stop his croaking, and since then he has become a 
stanch defender of the most grievous abuses of the turtle- 
breeding institution. In person Mr. Pincer was not agree- 
able to look upon : he gave you the idea of a red-haired 
bulldog, whose temper prevented his picking up any flesh. 
When in an official capacity he gave rise to another 



THE ROAD TO RUIN. 237 

zoological comparison by resembling a pouter, as he 
strutted about with his huge frill, and fancied himself no 
end of a fellow. He had obtained a great reputation as 
being charitably disposed ; but then it was always at other 
people's expense I do not know any instance of his giving 
away a shilling of his own ; but, on the other hand, he was 
a great card at distributing advice and tracts gratis. As 
Mr. Cantor found his only hope of salvation in Ebenezer, 
so Mr. Pincer held on fast by Salem ; and they were as 
pretty a pair of hypocrites as could be met with in London. 
But Mr Cantor had this advantage over his religious 
brother : I have known him give away a penny to a 
beggar when anybody was looking on, while Mr. Pincer 
never carried coppers, but ballasted himself with a large 
stock of soup tickets. 

This dread functionary scowled preternaturally when 
Charles stared at his fixed hat and returned the com- 
pliment by putting on his own again — and I have no 
doubt, although a godly man, would have willingly handed 
Charles over to the tender mercies of the common wheel 
for his insolence ; but my hero amused himself by a steady 
look at the little man, and a mental vow that he would 
kick him whenever he met him in a dark lane, and they 
proceeded to business. 

The deeds being signed, Mr. Pincer drew cheques for the 
amounts due to the first mortgagees, which he handed over 
to their representatives. At first he was sorely indignant 
that Mr. Amos had not made his appearance to swell his 
official triumph, and hinted at deferring the business till 
that gentleman's arrival ; but some judiciously applied 
flattery soothed his ruffled feelings. Mr. Cantor then re- 
ceived a cheque for the balance, and they walked out of the 
room ; while Mr. Pincer proceeded to lunch with the lord 
mayor, and consoled himself for late rebuffs by abusing in 
a godly manner an unfortunate footman. 

Mr. Cantor suggested that Charles should call the next 
morning at twelve, when they would run over his little bill 
and arrange matters, and to this, of course, my hero had 
no objection. When he called, however, he could not find 
Mr. Cantor in the way, and the next time he went the office 
was closed. All doubt as to the reason was dispelled by 
the next Gazette, in which Mr. Cantor's name figured 
prominently as a bankrupt, and on the first page of the 
Times was an advertisement, offering a reward of ^6100 
to any one who would deliver him over to the nearest 



238 wr.D oats. 

police station, as he was "wanted" for various offences, 
among them being forgery to a large extent. 

It was too true: Mr. Cantor had bolted with a serious 
governess, who had been educating his family, and had 
carried off Charles's small store of wealth as a viaticum. I 
do not pretend to assert that he bolted mereiy for the sake 
of getting possession of that money ; but he would have to 
fly in the shortest possible time, and he thought he might 
as well take this money with him. He succeeded in escap- 
ing to America, and is now a celebrated preacher and large 
slave-holder, to whom he delivers weekly sermons on the 
commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," and the audacious 
robberies committed by the darkies are the only canker 
which preys upon his mind. 

This was certainly remarkably pleasant for my friend 
Charles, for he had just .£25 left to begin the world upon. 
He would be enabled to pay his debts by the sale of his 
furniture and jewellery, and that was all. What he was 
to do he could not imagine. I will allow that many 
men have begun the world ere now with hardly so many 
pence as my hero had pounds; hut they had been educated 
in the hard school of adversity, and were prepared to rough 
it, in the certainty that their energy would lead them to 
a colossal fortune, and the end has frequently justified 
them. But with Charles the case was very different: he was 
quite unfitted by education for any single profession or trade. 
The only prospect he had was in turuing author, and even 
to that a man must serve a long apprenticeship before he 
can begin to earn enough to support him. The pen of a 
ready writer only moves so readily after long scouring over 
the paper, and ideas will not flow at starting one-half so 
rapidly as the ink. 

But my hero was not aware of this : in his magnificent 
notions of his own ability, he felt no doubt that he need 
only write a book to make a large sum by it. Hence he did 
not feel aDy great apprehension about the future, and, re- 
membering the fabulous sums he had heard were paid to 
celebrated authors, he thought, very naturally, he would 
soon be in a position to lay down his terms to the publish- 
ing world, who would run after him, and outbid each other 
to gain possession of his manuscripts. Poor fellow ! he was 
very much in the position of a young bear with all his troubles 
to come. Still it will do him no harm to have some of the 
conceit knocked out of him, to quote Sir Joseph Paxton's 
celebrated remark. 1 believe that Charley will yet emerge 



THE KOAD 10 BUIN. 239 

triumphantly from his difficulties, for adversity is a valuable 
friend and adviser. (What a horrid temptation assailed 
me to quote the lines beginning, " Sweet are," &c. ! but I 
forbear out of consideration to my readers.) 

The sale of the furniture was the first step Charley took 
to meet bis position boldly, and an advertisement in the 
Times soon produced a purchaser in the shape of a young gen- 
tleman just commencing his travels about town. The amount 
produced was more than sufficient to pay the debts, and 
Charles was at liberty to resign his valuable position as man 
about town. He felt some natural regret at giving up his 
comfortable chambers, and fancied he would be missed. 
Poor fellow ! the gap he made in the great circle of self was 
imperceptible, and filled up spontaneously. Just as if the 
habitues of the Haymarket cared who joined them, or who 
left their ranks, so long as they were not annoyed ! 

The next thing Charles had to arrange was where he 
should take up his abode, now that the West End was to 
know him no more. At first u e thought of the dark streets 
leading off the Strand; but he wished to be out of tempta- 
tion, and the billiard-room was in dangerous proximity. 
Still undecided, he hit on the nest best scheme — he would 
dine. Eegard being had to the state of his finances, he 
shunned Simpson's, and decided on the Cheshire Cheese, 
the great house of call for those pressmen who are in 
the habit of keeping their expenses within their in- 
come. 

The Cheshire Cheese is the funniest place imaginable. It 
is situated in a gloomy court running out of Fleet Street, 
which you may pass twenty times without noticing, so 
close a resemblance does it bear to its brother courts. But 
these narrow passages are well known to literary men as 
the lurking places of printers, and a congeniality of feeling 
has been produced on behalf of Wine-office Court and the 
Cheshire Cheese. There is a slight affectation about the 
coffee-room — you have wooden-handled knives and forks, as 
if you were going back at one bound to the days of Dr. 
Johnson ; but, on the other hand, the chops and steaks are 
irreproachable, and in winter they serve up a huge rump- 
steak pudding, such as you have only dreamed of before. 
Another favourable feature is amarvellous compound called 
arrack, or rack, I do not exactly know which — a most insi- 
dious beverage, which slips down your throat so rapidly, 
that you find yourself on a fair way to be intoxicated 



240 WILD OATS. 

when you get up from your chair, although you lia?e 
been fancying yourself as sober as a judge all the while. 

But Charley had selected this hostelry not out of any 
particular desire for mutton chops, but because he hoped to 
meet his friend Vicary, whom he would consult about his 
future prospects. As he expected, he found that gentleman 
calmly demolishing his dinner, and not at all disposed for 
conversation until that solemn sacrifice was consummated; 
but, with a tumbler of cold punch before him, he graciously 
consented to listen. 

" Well, Dashwood," he then said, " I am truly sorry for 
you. I do not think you will like a literary life, nor are you 
fit for it. It's a very poor crutch, you may depend upon it. 
If I had the chance I would cut it to-morrow, and I know 
plenty more successful men who feel the same. It's a 
thankless office to be at the beck and call of publishers; 
and, as for independence, you might as well hope to evad| 
death or the tax-collector." 

" Well, but, Vicary, I understood from you that you made 
i>300 a year. Surely a man can put up with a loss of dig- 
nity for that." 

" Well, so I do. I have £4= a week from the Fly- 
blow, but the confounded editor dares to cut my articles 
about. I have often threatened to throw it up, but I don't 
want to ruin the paper; and, if it was not for my articles, [ 
don't know who'd read the bosh Scraper puts in. Then I 
pick up a few pounds here and there from periodicals, and 
altogether have plenty of money ; but what's the use of it? 
J wanted to go up the Rhine this summer, and can't get 
away. Devil take newspaper work, I say ! " 

It seems rather surprising that Mr. Vicary should in- 
dulge in such abuse of a profession to which he owed his 
livelihood, but I can assure my readers he is not an isolated 
instance. As a rule, the more money a literary man makes 
the more he grumbles, and, while his work is the lightest 
possible, when he has once secured a position, he never 
can be brought to believe but that he is shamefully under- 
paid. 

" Well," said my hero, " I only wish I could earn one-half 
the money, and I should be satisfied. Is there any chance 
of getting an appointment on a paper at present ? I would 
gladly turn my hand to it." 

"Get on a paper? Well, I like your impudence. Do 
know, sir, that by the last return there are eighteen 



THE ROAD TO RUIN. 241 

hundred and seventy-seven Irishmen howling for engage- 
ments, and all, according to their own statement, pro- 
mised six deep, from the Times down to Paul Pry ? I had to 
wait five years before I got my own berth, and then it was 
only because my father stipulated for it on his giving up the 
editorship of the Flyblow. Besides, what claim have you? 
None of your family ever belonged to the literary world ; 
and I regard it as a precious piece of impertinence for you 
to think of getting on a paper." 

" Well, well, you needn't grow excited ; I only asked for 
advice, not for abuse. What shall I do — write a novel? 
I think I could manage that." 

" That s more in your line ; or do something for period- 
icals; but you must expect to live two years on air till you 
have established your name. Publishers wont take up an 
unknown man unless they are sure of making money, and 
the only way they can do that is by giving nothing for 
copyright. And they cannot be blamed for it: there's a 
parcel of foolish women not able to sew, who spend their 
time in blotting paper, and are only too glad to get their 
trash published, without having the face to ask for pay- 
ment. In many cases they will find the money towards 
printing expenses. Go down to the seaside and run over 
a circulating library, and then ask yourself whether any 
man in £*'„ senses would pay anything for the mass of 
rubbish congregated on the shelves. And it stands to 
reason that if an idle public must be supplied with literary 
pabulum, and does not care of what it consists, a publisher 
will not pay for copyrights, if he can fill three post octavo 
volumes for nothing. The system 's bad, sir." 

" Well, you give me Job's comfort certainly. I can't get 
on a paper ; I mustn't write novels ; so tell me what I can 
do to gain a living." 

" Find a new neighbourhood and establish a crossing — 
that will be a great deal more respectable, and save yo« a 
considerable amount of heart burning; but, if you are 
determined to follow your bias, you had better come with me 
tonight to the ' Aristarchus.' I will introduce you to some 
men, and you will hear some good advice, on condition 
that you hold your tongue. No one is allowed to address 
the meeting unless he has gained recognition as an author. 
You needn't bother about looking for lodgings to-night; 
I'll give you a sofa, and it will be late before we turn 
in. To-morrow we '11 talk the matter over at breakfast, and 
if you still hold to your present views I '11 see what I can 

B 



*«42 WILD OATS. 

do for you. And now let's sink the shop. What do you 
say to another go of vanity?" 

And thus the hours slipped away in pleasant converse 
about operatic matters and various amusing topics, until 
the time arrived to go to the " Aristarchus " club. Mr. 
Vicary was rather lurchy, but the liquor had made no im- 
pression on his head, except that he was more sarcastic 
than ever, and more disposed to warn Charley off the literary 
manor. But I cannot feel angry with him : the dog in the 
manger principle prevailing in literature has been produced 
by extraneous causes, for which the distinguished professors 
cannot be blamed. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

THE " ABISTARCHUP." 

It is an amusing instance of the unanimity existing among 
literary men, that hitherto they have remained unrepre- 
sented in club life. It is true that one fraction belongs to 
the Athenaeum, dull and dear; another to the Whittington, 
cheap and nasty. But the fact is that most literary men 
regard their working life as authors merely as a passage to 
something better — a government appointment of .£800 a year, 
say, or some snug berth in an insurance office. Hence they 
take no peculiar pride in their profession, and pay no at- 
tention to those arrangements by which the other professors 
obtain a local habitation and a name in our busy me- 
tropolis. 

Nor do I think that the proposition of the reform party is 
feasible, namely, that the balls of the Literary Society 
should be redeemed from their present vacuousness, and 
converted into a huge caravansarai", or house of call for 
writers. Though fully appreciating the merits of the re- 
public in which we pen-ologists live and have our being, 
and allowing that we are all equal in the sight of the public, 
ability alone enabling one man to make his £5000 a year, 
another his £500, still I arrogate to myself the right of 
choosing my company, and I should not desire to be hail 
fellow well met with Mr. O'Bourke, who has just entered the 
club, or whatever it may be called, after a lengthened 
course of accident hunting, and smelling strongly of the gin 



THE " ARTSTARCH OS." 243 

and water, by means of which he has kept his system up. 
Nor, on the other hand, if Professor Fribble were to make his 
appearance at night (which I very much doubt), would he 
condescend to associate with a humble scribe like myself, 
who is not yet able to give that Fribble a champagne supper 
as a return for his kind patronage. Theoretically there may 
exist a republic of letters, then; but practically it is ac 
oligarchy, where coteries try to gain the upper hand, and 
lay down the law for the plebs. Guilds and institutes will 
be attempted repeatedly, and fail, for there is no possibility 
of cohesiveness among such slippery elements. 

Still, I would not have it believed that there is not a 
strong feeling of clanship among authors; but they prefer 
establishing small coteries of intimates, whom habits and 
association render meet comrades. Of such nature was the 
" Aristarchus," got up by a parcel of clever young men, far 
too lazy to work hard, and gain a great name, but to be 
depended on when any pretender required demolishing. 
To it belonged the critics of several weekly papers, and it is 
wonderful what varied information they obtained when any 
new book was brought under their notice. Woe be to the un- 
happy plagiarist who dared to pick other men's brains, 
and pass off the plunder as his own: half an hour's quiet 
confab at the " Aris" soon settled him, and Dext Saturday 
ne was gibbeted for public scorn. It was well understood 
that the remarks made went into the common stock, and 
could be used without jealousy by anybody, and there was 
a glorious unanimity among the members when they had 
an opportunity of belabouring any impudent poet, who 
dared to take another man's thoughts, and tried to conceal 
them in the gaudy trappings of his own illregulated style. 

Nor was it merely for this purpose that the members 
collected every Wednesday evening; they had primarily 
formed the club for the purpose of improving the present 
state of the literary market, but I am afraid they will not 
succeed. They were sworn foes of publishers, and one-half 
of the scabreux stories which floated about London might 
be traced to their malicious interpretation of some very 
simple matter. When I add that they were ail more or 
less of the Bohemian tribe, but very good fellows in spite 
of that, I think I have said enough of the "Aristarchus." 

Vicary was received with a shout on entering the room 
with Charles, and a tall, good-looking man, with an intel- 
lectual head, called out, " Well, Vic, what news ? " 

" Oh ! haven't you heard? Sir Bulwer Lytton is going to 



M4 WILD OATS. 

bring a bill into the House that no publisher shall hereafter 
be allowed to set up, unless he can prove that he never 
learned to read. Fancy that fellow Belloes refusing my 
' History of the Cad Genus,' and saying that my friends 
would consider it personal." 

" Well, I fancy Belloes showed his taste," said another 
speaker, " for I think you said last week you pitched into 
the publishers as the cad par excellence." 

" Well, and I paid them a high compliment to write about 
them at all ; but I '11 serve Belloes out for it. His books 
shall be cut up for the next six months." 

" Well, I really don't think publishers are so much to be 
blamed," said another gentleman, evidently nervous and 
blushing at addressing so large an audience. " You must 
look at them in the light of tradesmen. Depend upon it, 
you would not have your books refused if Belloes saw his 
way to make money out of them. It is absurd to suppose 
that he would throw away a chance." 

" Come, come, Desboro', no going over to the enemy. Of 
course Twentymans published your book because you are 
related to the Duke of Rougelion, and could date your pre- 
face from his castle," said Vicary savagely. " But tell us 
honestly what you got for it ? " 

" I got all I asked : half the profits were offered me, and 
I accepted them, on condition that my book should be 
brought out at once, instead of lying over till Christmas." 

"And I suppose you'll tell us next that you have re- 
ceived some money on account ? " 

" Yes, I have. Not so much as I expected, certainly; 
but the publishers are not to be blamed because the public 
were blind to my merits." 

" Oh, the innocent ! There, don't say another word to- 
night, Desboro'. He published on half profits, gentlemen, 
and has actually received money on account. I vote he 
stands a bowl of punch at any rate." 

" Talking of publishers, I heard a good story to-day," 
said Eunciman, editor of the Skirmisher, a particularly 
caustic review. " One of your spasmodic poets, speculating 
on the high price those wares command, sent Belloes last 
week a manuscript poem, called ' Ajax defying the Light- 
ning,' and modestly requested that a cheque for .£800 should 
be forwarded by return of post, which, of course, Belloes 
did." 

" Well," Vicary solemnly began, " I have heard a good 
deal this night against publishers, and I certainly blame 



THE " ARI9TARCHUS." 245 

Belloes for refusing my book; but I have a still greater 
detestation for those confounded women, who cut us out 
entirely with their trash. Here 's my friend Dashwood 
thinking of writing a novel — I call him ripe for Hanwell ; 
but he persists in his notion, and fancies he is going to 
make money by it." 

You may imagine how the company stared at my hero, 
thus suddenly introduced to their notice as a future littera- 
teur. Still there was so much sympathy evinced for him — 
something of that sort which the Turks display toward a 
lunatic — that he took courage and expressed his views. 

" My friend Vicary has just given us his opinion about 
women's books, and I cannot agree with him. We ought 
to remember that nine-tenths of the novel readers are 
women, and books must be written appealing to their feel- 
ings. Men do not understand how to describe the intri- 
cacies of a love affair, or touch those hidden chords which 
respond in a woman's heart. For instance, none but a 
woman could write ' Margaret Maitland.' " 

" And none but a woman make such mistakes," added 
Runciman dryly. "But come, what do you say to 'Jane 
Eyre?' Surely a man could have written that." 

" I know that opinion was generally entertained by clever 
reviewers," Desboro' -put in ; " but the more you study that 
marvellous book the more convinced you must become that 
a woman wrote it. That dissection of the heart which ' Jane 
Eyre ' evidences in every page is too delicate for a man's 
clumsy fist." 

" And the only reason that made people fancy it was 
written by a man," added Charles, " was, in my opinion, 
that startling boldness which we only expected to find in 
French female writers But then ' Jane Eyre ' is quite 
exceptional, and hence can be read with equal interest and 
delight by all ; and that, I take it, is the chief point to be 
studied. Men's books may display more thought and know- 
ledge of the world, but they can only appeal to men, and 
hence generally prove failures." 

" Well," said Yicary, " I still hold to my conviction. No 
chance of literature proving successful until women are 
ordered to mend stockings and sew on buttons, which is 
their natural destiny." 

"And I only wish you could drive that into publishers," 
said Desboro', laughing; " but, at any rate, you must allow, 
Vic, that women don't condescend to such quackery as some 
of the gentlemen. They don't put literature on a level with 



24R WILD OATS. 

Holloway's pills, and, by dint of puffing and editions of two 
hundred and fifty, run up a worthless book to the tenth 
edition, and spend all the profits in advertising their own 
success." 

" I think Mr. Dashwood is right," said Runciraan after a 
pause. " Women are the best novelists after all ; but they 
should stick to that, and not run off into history, and weave 
their own imagination into the story. It is so much easier 
to invent interesting incidents than pore for days over an 
old manuscript, trying to make out Anglo-French. And 
then, confound the jades, their books sett." 

And Mr. Runciman, who had once perpetrated a " History 
of the Lord Lieutenants of Ireland," which was an utter 
fiasco, savagely gulped down his glass of toddy, and rang 
the bell for more. 

The conversation here became general, and Desboro' 
began talking to my hero about a new magazine he was 
going to bring out on his own risk, called the Dragon-fly, 
in which he asked his co-operation. Charles, highly delighted 
at having made an engagement so speedily, jumped at the 
offer, and accepted an invitation to breakfast for the next 
Sunday, when they could talk the matter over. Runciman, 
too, with that peculiar knack of old writers to form acquaint- 
ance with young men — is it for the sake of acquiring at 
second hand some of their freshness of thought? — also fol- 
lowed Charley, and got into conversation with him. 

" I like your theory about novel writers and novel readers, 
but I do not think it is quite correct. Male writers, when 
they take the pains, must far surpass anything of which a 
woman can be capable. Take the best woman's book and 
the best man's book, and contrast them — you will soon see 
the difference." 

" True ; but don't you think it is more easy for a woman 
to place herself on a level with the best of her class than 
it is for a man? I mean we might have many Mrs. 
Gores, but I hardly think we shall ever know more than 
one Thackeray." 

" But, you see, you are merely talking of conventional 
novels — there I grant you right, though you have no reason 
to quote Thackeray as an instance. His books are not 
novels, but sermons garbed in a satirical form, worth more 
than one-half our pulpiteers. Ah! sermonising died out with 
old Latimer. But, as I was going to remark, you will find 
that women's novels, as a general rule, run in one beaten 
track— they are all about marrying and giving in marriage, 



THE " AEISTAECHUS." 247 

and the incidents refer to the crosses which run through the 
three volumes, to end in the usual consummation. What 
we want is a novel idea in novel writing — something out of 
the beaten track — if a novel were to begin with a marriage 
and end with a birth, only for a change." 

" And yet that has been tried. Look at 'Ruth.' Who has 
not wept salt tears with that poor victim to her one great 
6in? and yet the impression the hook produces is not that 
expected from a novel. Conventionalism is absolutely 
necessary for the success of a novel, and any heretic who 
dared depart from the great highway would be punished 
by not being read." 

" I see, Mr. Dashwood, I shall not make you a convert 
to my theory, and I can only wish you all legitimate 
success on your path. But tell me, are you serious in 
turning to literature as a profession ? " 

" I certainly intended to try my 'prentice hand ; hut, 
from what my friend Vicary has let fall, I almost fear the 
trial." 

" Oh, you must not mind him ! His bete noir is a pub- 
lisher ; but I do not agree with him at all in his views. I 
have generally found publishers a very honourable and 
straightforward set of men, and, though our views do not 
always coincide, I think it but common justice to speak of 
them with respect. There are sharp hands among them 
certainly; but in these pushing days a man cannot get on 
without clever cuteness. But you may take it as a general 
rule that the man who abuses the publishers most viru- 
lently has just had a book refused by them. Hinc Mm 
lacryma!" 

"Bravo, Runciman !" said Desboro', who had heen 
listening attentively; "I am glad to find you coming 
round to my views. I always stuek up for the publishers ; 
hut methinks you were inconsistent last Wednesday, when 
you uttered such a fierce diatribe against Belloes." 

" I am beginning to appreciate Belloes better since yes- 
terday, my dear Desboro'." 

" Why this sudden change?" 

" Because yesterday Belloes was sufficiently alive to hns 
own interest to offer me J2500 for editing a new edition of 
De Thou's works, with notes and annotations." 

" Poor Belloes !" said Desboro', with a very comical sigh, 
to Charles, as Runciman turned away ; " that 'a one of the 
beauties of publishing : the Skirmisher is bribed to keep 
the-peace for the next two years. Ah ! they may say what 



248 WILD OATS. 

they like ; but between authors and publishers there is not 
a pin to choose." 

The room soon became crowded by men who came in 
from their night's work at the theatres and places of amuse- 
ment, and fun became the order of the eveniug. Of course 
there was a considerable amount of eating and drinking, 
but that takes place whenever Englishmen congregate. 
But Charles was very much surprised at finding so little 
fun among a party of men who lived by their wits in the 
truest sense of the term. Perhaps they took good care to 
keep all their jokes to themselves for their own use, for- 1 
am sorry to say I have known many brilliant remarks 
appropriated and turned into guineas, much to the annoy- 
ance of the original owners. 

It was growing very early when the party broke up, and 
Charles and Vicary started off in a Hansom for Camden 
Town, letting themselves into that gentleman's lodgings 
just as the early milkman began his matutinal round. 
They soon got off to sleep, and Charley began brilliantly 
dreaming about impossible successes, and had bright 
visions of bis name advertised in every newspaper in con- 
nection with the new and highly successful novel. But his 
slumbers were speedily broken into by the thousand and one 
cries which pervade the streets of Camden Town so soon 
as the clerks have gone off to business. He made a de- 
scent into the kitchen, to the immense alarm of the maid of 
all work, and had a hearty sluice at the pump, which 
greatly refreshed him. Then he tried to wake Vicary ; but, 
finding that a hopeless task, he went out and looked round 
for lodgings. 

As may be supposed, there was no want of those all 
around, and it was, in fact, an embarrassment of choice. 
By the time he got back he found his friend up, and trying 
to make coffee with a patent French machine, which regu- 
larly exploded just at the point of fruition. Informing him 
of his difficulty, Vicary very simply solved it by telling him 
there was a bed to let in the house, and he could have half 
his sitting-room. The matter was speedily arranged, and 
Charles, fetching his traps, was soon enrolled in the honour- 
able corps of litterateurs, though, for the present, forced to 
unwilling idleness. 

He was ^ery useful *n T7 icary in many ways , be was 
always willing to review books for him, although they gene- 
rally disagreed, Vicary judging by the name of the author 
and publisher as to whether a book should be praised or 



THE " ARISTARCHUS." 249 

abused, while Charles desired to judge by its merits. How- 
ever, Vicary, with his long practice, put in the plums, and 
was graciously pleased to express his satisfactiou at the 
result. 

At the breakfast to which Desboro' had invited my hero 
they had a long talk about the new magazine, which, how- 
ever, Charles found, to his sorrow, was not to appear at 
present, but was apparently only a scheme floating about 
the young man's brain, and dependent on his attaining his 
majority. Runciman, who was also invited, strongly re- 
commended Charles to try his hand at some magazine 
articles, and he went home full of hope, and still more cer- 
tain of success. 

But he was soon to be convinced that the literary hill 
could not be scaled without many heavy falls and failing 
breath. As might be expected, his articles were declined, 
and though he wrote and re-wrote them they were not uj 
to the ma»k. At length he took leave of fiction, and turned 
to description, where he ought to have begun. A neat little 
sketch of a foot tour in Devonshire was accepted, and soon 
appeared in one of the periodicals, and Charles was to all 
intents and purposes an author. How proud he felt when 
he carried home the proof, not daring to intrust it to the 
post, and scarcely venturing to alter a word. How much, 
prouder he felt when he was invited to call at the office and 
receive his honorarium — the first money he had ever earned 
in his life. No wonder he thought himself secure for the 
future, and magnificently asked half a dozen men to dinner, 
which made a deep hole in his payment. But what did he 
care for that? He had put his foot on the ladder at last, 
and it would not be his fault if he did not succeed. 

Mr. Runciman, who was much amused with his earnest- 
ness (for it put him in mind of his own early days of bright 
hope, before he had sunk into the bitter critic and slaugh- 
terer of young aspirants to fame), really exerted himself in 
Charles's behalf. He gave him plenty of introductions to 
publishers, and even intrusted a portion of the great De 
Thou editing to his supervision. Then a new world broke 
upon Charles in his visits to the Museum Library, and ha 
defied the celebrated headache, as he diligently followed up 
the trace, and made piles of extracts for the annotations. 
Mr. Runciman was glad tc have sucr. a vaiuaDte coadjutor 
at a price which no literary hack would have accepted, and 
pushed about until he had secured Charles a regular en- 
gagement on a cheap weekly periodical. The terms we/a 



£50 WILD OATS. 

poor enough — but ten shillings a page, and no chance of 
doing more than three a week at the most; tor pillaging ilie 
Americans was the principal editorial labour, and was much 
cheaper than original matter. Still, what with one thing 
and another, Charles was making enough to support him- 
self, and worked away steadily at intervals on the novel to 
which he was to owe his fame. 

I am glad that my hero is so respectably engaged, for T had 
grave doubts about him at first. I feared that his Oxford 
education would prove fatal to his success; but he has come 
out of the fire, pretty well singed it is true, but the sterling 
metal is beginning to be visible. With steadiness I have 
no fear of his ultimate recovery from the slough into which 
early habits and association had hurled him, and I am 
very glad to find he has left that horrible Haymarket for 
good. In fact, he found that racketing was incompatible 
with his present duties, and, although he enjoyed himself as 
well as usual, he indulged in none of those excesses which 
are ruinous alike to health and pocket. 

We may, therefore, leave Charles Dashwood for the pre- 
sent, assured that he is on the right track at last, and begin- 
ning to feel that spirit of independence which animates 
every man who earns his livelihood, and is not a burden on 
his relations. Helen, too, is still living quietly at Gurkenhof, 
seeing more than ever of old Sir Amyas, who is beginning 
to take great interest in her. He is growing very feeble and 
pettish, but Helen has got over her first fright at his ap- 
pearance. With her he is ever gentle, almost paternal. He 
makes up for this, however, by acting in a most unfatherly 
manner to his young heir, whom he will never admit into 
his presence, and altogether he is about as unhappy a mau 
as could well be found. 

And what of Mr. Worthington, my readers are heard 
asking ? Has he died and made no sign ? Let us go over 
*he ocean and inquire. 



ANTIPODES 251 



CHAPTER XXX 

ANTIPODES. 



At the period when young Worth in gton, with his family, 
determined on quittingold England to establish his penates 
in the antipodean land, the affairs of the colony were in 
anything but a blooming condition. Sheep farmers had 
struggled long and unsuccessfully against the rot and low 
prices, and were giving up that branch of trade, and seeking 
others which might turn out more profitably. This step 
was generally from bad to worse, and, after sacrificing their 
stock at an absurdly low price, they lost that money in 
equally absurd speculations. No wonder, then, that they 
looked gloomily on their new country, and many bitterly 
regretted that they had ever been fools enough to give up 
certainty at home for the insecure chance of making a 
fortune in Australia. Little did they foresee that within two 
years the marvellous discovery would take place to convert 
them all into gold-seekers, and send up the colony to an un- 
precedented pitch of factitious prosperity. 

The very nature of Australia forbids that expansion 
which has done so much for North America. The limits of 
the settlement are designed by an inexorable law of neces- 
sity, and the hardiest pioneer turns with dismay from the 
gloomy scrub of the interior, which the sad fate of former 
explorers deters him from visiting. A huge belt of excel- 
lent soil surrounds the central valley, and it seems almost 
a certainty that the frontier line can never be carried 
further. Hence the future of Australia may be easily fore- 
told : over-immigration will lead to discontent, and, so soon 
as the gold mania has faded away, the dissatisfied colonists 
will pack up their traps, and seek elsewhere that room for 
expansion which is denied them in their new home. The 
sad want of water will prove a bitter obstacle to the progress 
of the new country, and though railways may be constructed 
to supply the natural means of communication, history 
teaches us that every young country has owed its prosperity 
to the great water routes which can be employed at once 
and with slight outlay for the necessary barter. But pro- 
bably before this takes place the other great colonisation 



252 WILD 0AT3. 

grounds will have been occupied, and Australia will find 
herself behind the world as much as she is now fancied to 
be before it. In the meanwhile English speculation does 
its best to exploiter the country, and by over-exportation 
restore things to their healthy and natural balance. 

The Worthingtons safely arrived at Port Philip, and, 
after looking about them in considerable amazement at the 
new city which was to represent their metropolis, they sought 
an opportunity for getting up to Stapleton, and joining 
the old man; but this was not so easy to effect. Stapleton 
was certainly an outpost of civilisation, but was regarded 
more as a forlorn hope than anything else. The Port 
Philipers would be very glad to hear of its eventual suc- 
cess, and be proud to send up articles of trade there so soon 
as they found a market; but they had no idea of meeting 
Stapleton half way by making a road or facilitating the 
communication. They had quite enough to do in looking 
after themselves, and, in a fine Anglo Saxon spirit, pre- 
ferred keeping the poor relation at bay. If he got on in 
the world, why, of course, they would willingly recognise 
him ; but, till then, really they must be excused. Sneer at 
the Americans as much as you like, and abuse their insti- 
tutions as you please — I will not say a word to stop you ; 
but, at any rate, be so just as to give them credit for the 
practical fraternity they display, and the willingness with 
which they hold out a hand to a struggling neighbour. It 
may be that they feel confident of gaining cent, per cent, 
from the money they lay out in making roads and throwing 
open rivers ; but 1 prefer to regard it as a proof of their 
enlightenment, and the common interest they feel in the 
welfare of their great fatherland. 

The only mode, then, by which the Worthingtons could 
get up to their new home was by purchasing an ox team ; 
but there was this obstacle — that they had not the money, 
and immediately James expressed a wish to negotiate a 
purchase the prices doubled at once. At last, however, 
they were relieved from their difficulties: they heard that a 
settler's team was going up some thirty miles beyond 
Stapleton, and succeeded in procuring a passage on con- 
dition that James would turn drover, and Jane perform the 
operations of head cook. Fortunately for her, there is no 
great conjuring required in cooking dampers and frying 
mutton chops, and she succeeded in satisfying the palates 
of her guests. But James was not nearly so successful in 
his department, and the new "mate" received many a 



ANTIPODES. 253 

hearty curse for the stupid manner in which he managed 
the oxen. But it is not so pleasant for a cockney to be 
suddenly removed from his home, where he has probably 
Dever seen a cow save in Hyde Park, and has a belief that 
milk is a compound of industry made up of water, chalk, and 
bullocks' brains, and be set to manage some eight or ten fiery 
oxen, which display an insane desire to make the drover 
acquainted with the sharpness of their horns. 

But the worst of all to James was driving in the hobbled 
team in the morning preparatory to starting. At first, 
where the scrub had undergone a pretence of clearing, it 
was not so bad ; but when they reached the region of the 
giant gum trees, and it was necessary to track the cattle, 
poor James's difficulties commenced. With all the pre- 
cautions he took he could not advance for five minutes 
without losing his way; and the track of the cattle was so 
crossed and intercrossed that at last he would sit down in 
utter despair, and bitterly regret leaving a country where 
he could not miss his way, and where, when he was tired, a 
'bus was always within hail. After various attempts of this 
nature the stockman iguominiously degraded James from 
his duties, much to his gratification, and he was ordered to 
take double watch at night, and prevent any interesting 
savage from helping himself to the rum. 

I am afraid that neither husband nor wife fully appre- 
ciated the signal honour of being thus intimately mixed up 
with a parcel of convicts. At home I rather fancy they 
would have declined associating with such gentry, and 
would have called in the police had any gentleman just 
released from Portland thrust his intimacy upon them. 
But here all was very different; the only company they had 
belonged to the convict class, and, take them altogether, 
they were not so bad as they are painted. For the first few 
days Jane had an uneasy apprehension, just as you might 
experience if you were shut up in a menagerie, and did not 
know at what moment the beasts would fall upon you. 
But this soon wore off; the intense reverence they paid her, 
and the love they showed for her children, roughly ex- 
pressed though it was, touched her heart, and, to her great 
surprise, within a week she was quite on confidential- terms 
with Baxter, the head man, who gave her many useful hints 
as to her future course of life. 

One afternoon, when they had reached the very densest 
part of the scrub, and had made a station for the necessary 
purpose of dinner, Jane was fearfully startled by hearing 



254 WILD OATS. 

screams of distress at a short distance off. She naturally 
expected that the herdsmen would rush to the spot ; hut, to 
her regret, they coolly went on munching their dampers 
and talking in their unintelligible argot. 

" Baxter," she said, " don't you hear that dreadful cry for 
help? Some one is in great trouble. Perhaps he has lost 
his way in this fearful brushwood. Go, I pray of you, at 
once to his assistance." 

" Lord bless you, missis ! that 's an old fakement ; it *s 
only them bushrangers a trying to get us away from the 
team, that they may help themselves ; but I don't mean to 
be caught by that chaff." 

And Baxter began carefully examining his double-bar- 
reled gun, and warned the rest of the men to be on their 
guard, as an attack might be expected. The cries were re- 
newed with still greater force, and Jane could not possibly 
believe that anybody could be so cruel as to cry in that 
way unless he had good reason. She felt very angry with 
Baxter for not going at least to see whether there was not 
some ground for the appeal, and all that gentleman's good- 
humoured chaff was unavailing to restore her to good 
humour. The caravan started again, and had just reached 
a natural clearing when all the men suddenly dodged be- 
hind gum trees and cocked their guns. I must except 
James, however, who had been amusing himself by watch- 
ing a kangaroo, and was suddenly drawn from his re- 
searches in natural history by a sharp crack across the 
forehead, which brought him to the ground. Jane stared 
round her in amazement ; she could not account for this 
sudden move; but a voice from the scrub soon enlightened 
her. 

" Now, then, you Jim Baxter, it 's no use humbugging ; 
we 're all clamming, and must have grub ; so we mean to 
have a go in at your team. They 're six of us ; and so help 
me, we haven't tasted food for a week, J cept a possum or 
so we killed, and that ain't fit food for a Christian any- 
ways." 

"Joe Bowles, I'm fly to your tricks; but you didn't 
ought to treat an old pal this way. You know I didn't 
peach on you when I had a chanee of handing you over to 
the police, but kept you in my hut for three weeks stowed 
away till you could get round." 

" I know it, I know it, Jim ; you were a good friend to 
me, and 1 wouldn't trouble you now only we 're starving, I 
tell you, and must have grub. If you like to give it to 



ANTIPODES. 255 

us all th3 better, else we must take it, for we are des- 
perate." 

" Well, then, why didn't you stand forrard like men, in- 
stead of skulking behind them gums? God forbid you 
should starve, and, had you asked me for it, I would have 
given you food." 

" I'll take your word, Jim; so we'll come out, and trust to 
your generosity." 

With these words six wretched, woe-begotie men burst 
from the thicket, and soon surrounded the team, which they 
surveyed with wolfish glances. They were all armed with 
rusty firelocks, which looked as if they would do more dam age 
to the owners than any one else, and their long black beards 
imparted to them a character of ferocity which produced a 
very hearty burst of crying from baby. At the same time 
the Stockmen also came out, and the treaty of amity was 
speedily signed. The rum passed from hand to hand, the 
cavendish was cut up, and pipes filled, while Jane received 
instructions from Baxter to cook an impossible number of 
mutton chops and dampers for the " poor devils," as he 
compassionately termed them. 

In the meanwhile Mr. James Worthington recovered 
from his stupor, mainly through a tightness he felt over his 
throat, which threatened strangulation if he did not soon 
come to himself. When he woke up he found himself very 
artistically converted into a spread eagle between two gum 
trees, and his coat and cap absent without leave. But he 
was soon released by two ruffians, who apologised for ill- 
treatiug the " swell," through their ignorance that he was a 
friend of Jim's; and one of them made a bandage of green 
leaves, which he chewed into a pulp, and fastened across 
the ugly blow on our friend's forehead. Then they led him up 
to the team, when Baxter regarded him guizzingly, saying, — 

"Well, mate, you've formed an acquaintance with our 
'possums, have you? Hit precious hard, though, don't they? 
But, I say, you sir, just hand the swell back his coat, will 
you, or else you'll get no baccy, I tell you." 

" Oh, in course, Mr. Baxter, in course — a friend of yours 
mustn't suffer any loss. Very hard, though," he added, 
taking a disconsolate look at the coat; "I was beginning 
to feel respectable again." 

Baxter then addressed the conclave as follows : — 

" Mates, I cannot give you any part of this load, for it 
belongs to master, and I have sworn to be honest for all 
his kindness to me. He has been the saving of me and 



256 WILD OATS. 

most on us, and I won't have him harmed a penny as long 
as I've an arm left to defend his property. But I have a 
load of things belonging to myself, which I bought to turn 
an honest penny by, and I am willing to give it you in 
God's name if it'll keep you from starving, and help to 
make honest men of you; but I'm afraid it's too late for 
that." 

"God bless you, Jim," said the leader, "for that wish! 
If I had only taken your advice when you nursed me 
through my illness it would have been better for me. 
Don't be frightened at us, lady," he then said, turning to 
Jane; "we are a rough lot, I know; but God forbid we 
should hurt a woman, and, if you would take pity on a poor 
fellow, give him that Bible I saw you reading awhile back. 
It will remind me of happier times, and be a consolation to 
me when I am forced to deeds which I would gladly rcfcxin 
from Ah! you may look at me in surprise; but, believe me, 
I was not always thus — a fatality has pursued me. I was 
striving hard to redeem my character, but the master to 
whom I was allotted was a fiend. He drove me to despera- 
tion, and I struck him. No hope of escape was left but the 
bush, and here I shall rot some day, and be buried beneath 
the wind-driven leaves — fit punishment for the outcast and 
the ruffian. But we must be gone now, mates," he added, 
suddenly altering his voice and manner; "we must be 
moving ; the police are alter us, as you know ; so make up 
the swag into bundles, and let's get to our horses. Jim, I 
owe you much for this help, and if I live will repay you." 

" If I could only hear you 'd turned an honest man," Jiru 
growled, " I 'd care precious little for this plunder. But 
now be off — we must be on the move. Is the road all safe 
from here to Stapleton?" 

" Oh ! you '11 meet nobody but the police," said the ring- 
leader, with a laugh ; " and, if you happen to come across a 
mob of darkies, just show them that," handing him a 
curiously carved assagai : " that will prove your passport." 

The remainder of the journey was passed without any 
stoppage. Thty certainly met the police, but strenuously 
denied having seen anything of the bushrangers; and, when 
James was about to make an energetic protest, he received 
so dark a scowl from Baxter, that his words very speedily 
slipped down his throat again. On getting within sight of 
Stapleton, Baxter asked him as a favour not to mention to 
any one that they had met with any difficulty, and, as the 
loss would fall entirely on himself, the matter could be 



ANTIPODES. 237 

lushed up. To this James consented, much moved by the 
entreaties of his wife, who had taken, woman-like, a great 
interest in the leader of the gang. 

Stapleton, at the time of my story, was far from evidencing 
that it would so shortly spring up into an important town- 
ship, and be connected with the capital by means of a rail- 
way ; but then it lay on the direct route to the diggings, 
and the auri sacra fames is a wouderful lever for progress. 
At this time it merely consisted of four or five wattled 
houses, an inn, and a long whitewashed building, on which 
was painted in gigantic black letters, Worthington, 
^Merchant, and consisting of a dwelling house, store, shop, 
and stables under one roof. 

It is not necessary to give any account of the meeting, 
tempered as it was by the loss of the mother, whom old Mr. 
Worthington had been longing to see, and had prepared a 
home for her as comfortable as circumstances would allow. 
Hence he clung the more closely to Jane, who had always 
been a favourite of his, and delighted in the children, for 
whose welfare he had already built up the most magnificent 
prospects. But he allowed them very little time to rest; 
his activity would not suffer any delay in the pleasant pro- 
cess of money-making, and before long Jane was initiated 
into all the mysteries of the store, and appointed head 
directress of the household. 

"And now that you have come, Jane, perhaps you will 
manage to keep some servants, for I can't. The jades all 
run off to get married as soon as you grow used to them. 
One very decent body I had as a sort of housekeeper stayed 
twelve months with me, but then gave me notice, as she 
said the village was beginning to speak about the impro- 
priety of her living with a single man. She could only con- 
sent to stay if I would marry her; but as I suggested that I 
had a wife already, and did Dot feel disposed to commit 
bigamy, even through the temptation of her mature charms, 
why, we parted." 

And old Mr. Worthington had a hearty chuckle at this 
reminiscence of his bachelor days, while Jane set to work 
at learning in a docile spirit all the duties which fell to her 
lot in her new home. And it was at first a very difficult 
task; her education had, I may say, unfitted her for this 
life, and it took some time before she could undo the past. 
But Mr. Worthington's unceasing energy acted as a per- 
petual stimulus; there was no hope of escaping from any 
office which he considered belonged to her department, and 



258 WILD 0AT8. 

if at times she tried to read a book, the old gentleman 
would take it from her laughingly, and say the only books 
she need study were the ledger and the cookery book, 
which last would considerably improve their dinner. 

James, in the meanwhile, was going through the same 
rough process of training; he had learned to face oxen 
boldly, and was continually galloping about the country, 
buying up sheep and cattle from the dissatisfied stock- 
holders. Mr. Worthington soon became the largest holder 
in that part of the country, for he foresaw a great impending 
change, though he certainly could not guess in what 
direction, and his land was in capital order. But he did 
not neglect the hammer to which he owed his fortune, and 
a sale at his store was always an event to which the whole 
country side flocked in to be amused and edified by his dry 
jests, and rough, earnest practicality. 

And if at times a regret ci - ossed Jane's mind that her 
birth and education were sadly compromised by this rough 
contact with Anglo-Saxon peasants and ticket-of-leave men, 
still her natural good sense soon did away with any re- 
pining. She gradually grew to see that the duty of life is 
not dependent on adventitious circumstances, and that she 
was bound to devote herself to her new vocation with a 
lowly and yet determined spirit. It is wonderful how this 
resolve toned down difficulties; she found herself within 
three months as good a dairymaid as any in the neighbour- 
hood who had been brought up to it from their youth, while 
the change that was taking place in her James was per- 
fectly marvellous. There was not a trace of Cockneydom 
left; it had not been proof against his father's persistent 
jokes, and if you wished to offend him you need only call 
him a gentleman. He was beginning to learn the lesson 
which Australia is always ready to teach to those who open 
their ears to her, that independence is a charming compen- 
sation for the loss of those luxuries which are considered 
indispensable in polite society, but which sink into nothing- 
ness when your neighbours do not force you into expensive 
rivalry. 

Many long consultations took place between old Worthing- 
ton and Jane as to whether Charles should not be invited 
to join them at once, and take his part of the prosperity 
which had fallen on them. But Jane was strongly against 
this : she wished her brother to be the " gentleman " of the 
family, and worthy assertor of its dignity, and she felt he 
could only effect this in old England. The news, too, of 



ANTIPODES. 259 

her sister's splendid marriage came to her assistance in the 
argument, and old Worthington was obliged to give in, 
beaten but not convinced. He therefore said no more, but 
wrote a long letter to Charles, in which he described the 
slate of the country and the certainty of success for any 
energetic man. He did not urge him to come, but left it to 
his own good judgment, and if he failed in his career at 
home there was always a home ready for him at Stapleton. 
He wound up with some sage advice about Sir Amyas, 
which, however, was quite thrown away, for by the time 
the letter reached England Charley was in the thick of 
his troubles. 

And here I think we may safely leave the Worthingtons, 
happier than they have been for several years They, too, 
have gone through maDy and grievous trials, which havr 
purified them, and prepared them for battling with the 
world. They are of that true sterling stuff which our heroes 
are composed of, and are sure to succeed eventually But 
they would not have done so in England, hampered as they 
were by prejudices, and swifter racers than themselves on 
that course where the race is most surely to the swift. The 
future lies open before them, and they are enjoying the full 
measure of independence and prosperity, the sweeter because 
due in great measure to themselves. 

But I would not have my readers run away with thr 
notion that Australia is the paradise of persons in the class 
of the Worthingtons ; on the contrary, I doubt whether 
they would not have been worse off there than in England, 
had they not had the old gentleman at their back to clear 
the scrub for them. It was very pleasant to drop into a 
comfortable home, and have everything ready to hand; but, 
supposing that they had arrived in Australia on the chance 
of success, what would have become of them ? They would 
have added one more family to the ghastly number who 
have so long served as a warning of the impossibility of 
head making way against hands in a new colony. Though 
" head " will win the day, " hands " are sure of a very long 
innings at the outset. 



260 WILD OATS. 



CHAPTER XXXt 

LITERARY PROSPECTS. 



In the meanwhile Charley was working away manfully at 
De Thou, and filling up his spare hours with his novel, or 
by extending his acquaintanceship among the literary and 
artistic Bohemians who congregate in Camden Town, and 
gratify their propensity for billiards and beer at the cheapest 
possible rate. My readers may possibly not be aware that 
we too have our Bohemia, although it is not so open to the 
public ken as the one in Paris, nor do our authors try to 
convert their experiences of Zingaro life into shekels, as is 
so often the case in Lutetia. But it must be borne in 
mind that Frenchmen are far beyond us in the literary art 
as regards the mercantile part of the business, and evince 
no delicacy as to using up incidents which any man of feel- 
ing would regard as most sacred. 1 do not think that 
" Mathilde," for instance, in which all the female charac- 
ters the author avowed were drawn from his own bonnes 
fortunes, is likely to be imitated in this country. 

Take it altogether, however, the Camden Town Bohemia 
is inhabited by very harmless denizens, who are, according 
to the popular verdict, nobody's enemies but their own. 
Their ranks are made up of unsuccessful authors and press- 
men, artists who have not yet gained admission to the 
Academy, veterinary pupils from the college, and medical 
students from University and King's. They all join in firm 
fellowship, and are ready to help each other to the last 
shilling, in which, I am afraid, the students suffer the most, 
for they have parents still who find them money, while 
artists and authors have to depend on their own exertions, 
and it is so much easier to borrow than work. 

The artists were the nearest approach to Bohemia as it 
is in Paris ; for they had solved the apparently impossible 
problem of living in London without money. The process 
was simple enough : a confiding house in the vicinity of 
Rathbone Place supplied them with the necessary materials 
of their art, and the rest was most facile. An artist, so long 
as he possessed an easel, was secure ; he would take lodg- 
ings and live on the fat of the land; when the bill was pre- 



LITERARY PROSPECTS. 261 

sented there were, of course, no effects, but Mr. Scumble 
would be happy to work it out. A portrait of the lady of 
the establishment would settle a two months' bill ; the same 
process would be repeated throughout the whole of the 
family, even down to the dog, which was always represented 
on the most velvety of red cushions, much more true than 
nature ; and then, all being painted, Mr. Scumble would 
seek fresh fields and pastures new, leaving his old lodgings 
on a perfectly good understanding, and with the best of 
characters as a punctual tenant. If you, my reader! 
were by any dire misfortune (which I heartily wish may 
not fall to your lot) forced to look out for lodgings in the 
healthy suburb of Camdentonia, you will notice at the first 
glance the immense extent of artistic development. 

But though board and lodging were thus provided, as 
may be supposed, Mr. Scumble would require money in his 
pocket. His wants as regarded beer were generally satisfied 
in the same manner, and Mr. Spiggott, the worthy landlord 
of the Nag's Head, has a perfect picture gallery of his own 
smiling rubicund lace, alternating with Mrs. Spiggott in 
black satin and the most massive of chains ; but, of course, 
Mr. Scumble must have some money in bis pocket for his 
menus plaisirs. This was effected by his producing some high 
art picture, which was never sold or accepted by the Academy; 
but, on the other hand, his uncle round the corner was 
always ready to advance money upon them, and Mr. 
Scumble made a holocaust of the representative tickets. 
And this is one of the chief nurseries for Wardour Street 
galleries, I may here remark; and, as all parties are satis- 
fied, what reason have we to lament this prostitution of 
high art? 

My hero was introduced to this heterogeneous company 
through Mr. Styffe, a misunderstood artist, who resided in 
the garret of the house where Charles lived. Poor Mr. Styffe 
had commenced at the parlours, and ascended by regular 
stages to the garret, where he now lived, happy as a king, 
and painting away at a " Finding of Harold's Body," which 
he had selected as an original subject which must attract 
attention. His only regret was that he could not drive 
aesthetic notions into his new friend, and prove to him that, 
by lying down as a nude model for several hours a day in 
the stiBing garret, the true interests of art would be main- 
tained. All that Charles could be induced to grant was that 
he would sit as a model for the Abbot of Battle, and to this 
compromise Mr. Styffe at length yielded. It was an expen- 



262 WILD OATS. 

sive luxury, for the attic was hot, and beer desirable ; but 
Mr. Styffe was unable to supply the want, and Charles was 
compelled to act the part of purse. However, bow could 
he begrudge beer when he knew that Mr. Styffe was too 
often in want of a dinner? 

These and other interruptions of a similar nature pre- 
vented the rapid progress of the magnum opus, but even that 
was finished at last. My readers may gauge the depth 
which Charley had reached in Ruuciman's heart when I 
tell them that worthy gentleman conscientiously went 
through the awful task of reading the whole of the manu- 
script in the course of a week. When we bear in miad 
that Mr. Runciman was literary adviser to a publishing 
house, which thus purchased the silence of the Skirmisher, 
I trust this labour of love will be appreciated. His verdict 
on the novel was, on the whole, favourable. 

" 1 'm sure it will do, Dashwood, for I 've read the whole 
of it in print before." 

"What do you mean?" said my hero, naturally 
alarmed. 

" Why, you seem to me to have carefully studied a cir- 
culating library before setting about your task, and the 
result is you have collected a lot of incidents which belong 
to other individuals. However, don't be afraid; nobody 
will offer a reward for the detection of the thief." 

" Be quiet, Runciman ; but do you honestly think it will 
be accepted ? " 

" I think I know a way to insure that consummation," 
Runciman dryly replied, " and I will give you a note 
to Belloes, which will procure you an audience with 
him." 

Charles overflowed with gratitude, and insisted on stand 
ing a dinner, which Mr. Runciman deigned to accept. 
Canny Scotchman as he was, he never refused a good offer, 
but you were mistaken if you thought to bribe him by such 
a trumpery sprat. I tried the experiment once on behalf of 
a book 1 was interested in, and Runciman drank me half a 
dozen of Larose claret. Whether he felt seedy in conse- 
quence I cannot say ; all I know is, that my book was awfully 
pitched into in the next number of the Skirmisher, and E 
was kindly recommended to go back to school and learn to 
spell. Worst of all, when I upbraided Runciman for his 
perfidious conduct he insisted that he had done the book a 
service, for which the publisher had thanked him, as he 
was enabled to sell ten copies of the work in consequence, 
which was quite a godsend. 



LITERARY PROSPECTS. 263 

But I do not think Charley's book was so very bad. It 
was spoiled by a fantastic title, being called " The Red Flag 
at the Fore," because there was not a single nautical in- 
cident in it; but that was not my hero's fault, for Mr. 
Belloes kept a gentleman on purpose to invent titles, which 
he considered, perhaps justly, were half the battle. But I 
am anticipating; I have not yet told you how the book came 
to be accepted. 

Charley then, armed with his precious manuscript and 
the letter of introduction, boldly faced the lion in his den, 
and sent in his card, wishing to see the publisher on im- 
portant business. But Mr. Belloes was too old a hand to 
be taken in by this very transparent reason, and generally 
estimated very rightly that what was of importance to an 
author might be of very slight consequence to a publisher. 
There was a myth current that Mr. Belloes was never visible 
to any one below a baronet, and that an effigy was put up 
to represent him when those of the common clay were 
anxious to see him. Hence visitors were generally sifted 
by being passed through the hands of some half dozen 
gentlemen, who all tried to delect their business, and judge 
whether Mr. Belloes could spare two minutes of his valuable 
time to the new comer. 

In this instance, however, the letter of introduction, with 
the sprawling " Alexander Runciman," proved an open 
sesame, and Charley soon found himself in the presence of 
the great man who breathed life into authors, and who was a 
true literary Warwick, able to make and depose kings by 
judicious puffery, or equally judicious withdrawal of adver- 
tising. There was nothing very terrific about him ; he was 
a meek little man, who looked as if he spent his life in 
deprecating a kicking, and had a strange habit of peering 
at you from under his eyelids, and blushing violently when 
caught in the act. But, for all his apparent meekness and 
harmlessness, Mr. Belloes was as clever a man of business 
as any to be found through the whole length and breadth 
of England, and could " reckon up " a pretentious author 
with the most extraordinary correctness. 

He hurriedly ran over Runciman's note, and his manner 
became almost affectionate. 

" I see that you have a three vol. novel to dispose of, 
Mr. Dashwood, and am happy to have the honour of re- 
ceiving the first offer." 

"By Jove," thought Charley, "that's worth .£100 at 
least. Desboro' is right, and publishers are bricks." 



264 WILD OATS. 

" Yes, Mr. Belloes, and I think I may say without flattery 
it is a good one." 

" Of that I have no doubt — Mr. Runciman's name is suf- 
icient. He mentions, too, that you are a brother-in-law of 
;he Marquis of Lancing." 

" Yes, that is true ; but I do not see what that has to do 
with the novel I propose to you." 

" Hem ! hem ! Why, you see, Mr. Dashwood, yon will 
pardon me, I trust, but you are a young author, and the 
public are not disposed to take up a book unless recom- 
mended by a great name. Now, do you think the Marquis 
would be disposed to edit the book? if so, I could offer you 
very liberal terms." 

Charley looked with amazement on hearing this novel 
offer, but merely replied that he doubted whether it was 
in the Marquis's line, and, besides, he was from England. 
Mr Belloes was foiled, but returned to the charge gal- 
jantly. 

" Well, I am sorry for your sake that it is so — the name 
of the Marquis would have given the book a prestige. How- 
ever, as I wish to oblige Mr. Runciman, I will publish your 
book on condition that your name does not appear ou the 
title page. I assure you it would do it harm, and perhaps 
the public may be inclined to believe it written by some 
eminent band." 

" And what terms, may I ask, would you be inclined to 
propose ? " 

" Well, well, you see, Mr. Dashwood, it makes a material 
difference. If the Marquis had edited the work I could 
have offered you £200 ; as it is, I can only " 

"By Jove, it is a hundred!" thought Charles, but was 
sadly deceived when Mr. Belloes added, — 

" — Propose to publish on half profits. But you do not 
like that, perhaps," said the crafty old gentleman, noticing 
the blank look of dismay which floated across Charles's 
serene countenance. " Well, for your sake I will stretch a 
point, but I trust you will not mention it, for fear of estab- 
lishing a dangerous precedent. I will give you £50 on the 
sale of three hundred and fifty, and £b0 additional on the 
sale of five hundred, and then I am running a risk." 

Oh, Mr. Belloes ! why did you not blush on making 
this remark? You knew as well as I do that you would 
never sell three hundred and fifty, but you were perfectly 
well aware that two hundred would cover your outlay, and 
the rest would be profit to your own account, but nothing 



LITERARY PROSPECTS. 265 

to the author. But, of course, to CbavJes hope told the flat- 
tering tale of success, and he willingly accepted the offer. 

The manuscript was read, and certain alterations sug- 
gested, which Charles willingly made, although he felt they 
weakened the book ; the title was agreed to as proposed by 
Mr. Belloes' adviser, and the work progressed rapidly. 
Before long the morning papers contained artfully con- 
cocted paragraphs, in which "we" strongly recommended 
the new work as the most startling fiction which had 
appeared since Walter Scott. If you believed it, such men 
as Thackeray and Dickens had lived only to prove the 
vast superiority of the author who was making his debut. 
But I am wrong; it was more than hinted in these vera- 
cious paragraphs that the talented work was owing to the 
pen of a late cabinet minister, who, in his forced retirement, 
revealed some most important secrets relating to the late 
crisis. Of course this paragraph had to be considerably mo- 
dified before being sent to the Times, because that uncom- 
promising journal will prick all such puffs by adding the 
fatal word " advertisement." This was Mr. Belloes' bete 
noir, And I believe he would have gladly paid the Times 
.£4,000 a year if it would alter its system, and give him the 
opportunity of quoting his own words as the deliberate 
verdict of the Times. 

After a due course of advertising the book appeared. 
Those papers which were bound to Mr. Belloes by principal 
or interest (for he had shares in several weekly papers as a 
matter of business) exaggerated their praise. The great 
lterary organ behaved fairly, as usual, and, while allowing 
the merits of the book, pointed out its faults kindly, and 
encouraged the author to go on. Then the ruck of weekly 
papers, which form their critiques on what the great 
literary journal had said, followed suit, and praise and 
blame were equally balanced, the public not caring one jot 
for either, but reading the book, if the keeper of the circu- 
lating library recommended it to them. For about six 
weeks Mr. Belloes found it pay to keep on advertising, and 
then the great novel on which Charles had hoped to build 
his reputation died and made no sign, being superseded by 
a trashy story written by a lady of title. 

Two months had passed away, and Charles not hearing 
anything from Mr. Belloes ventured to remind that gentle- 
man of his existence ; but Mr. Belloes having more weighty 
matters on hand than settling with an author politely 
hauded him over to his managing man. The book had 



266 



WILD OATS. 



been a great success — -nearly three hundred had been sold, 
and there was no doubt the other fifty would go off rapidly. 
Need I delay on this subject longer? The book never 
reached the stipulated number ; but I must do Mr. Belloes 
the justice to say that he paid Chailes .£25, although the 
agreement was not fulfilled. Whether Mr. Runeiman had 
anything to say in the matter I do not know; still it is re- 
freshing, when so much abuse is sown broadcast about 
publishers, to be able to mention this simple act of lair 
play. 

This was followed by an invitation to dinner, when 
Charles was introduced to the literary swells present as 
buother-in-law of the Marquis of Lancing, and author of 
so and-so. The guests, as usual, ate and drank to their 
hearts' content, and formed into coteries to abuse the 
man's impudence for asking them ; but it was marvellous 
to see the reverence they paid him, and the anxiety to 
stand in his good graces, as a means of heightening the 
price of their wares. Altogether it was a very amusing 
scene ; and you may be sure that Charles, with his native 
love of satire, looked on with great gusto at this tangible 
proof of the dignity of authorship. 

This mark of condescension whs followed up, however, 
by a further proof of Mr. Belloes' good feeling toward 
Charles, for he despatched a note to him in the course of 
a week requesting his presence. Charles proceeded imme- 
diately to the great man, and found that Mr. Belloes was 
going to enhance his favours by giving him a commission. 

"I have here a manuscript, Mr. Dashwood, of the 
' Travels of the Duke of Staines,' which I am about to 
publish. I need not tell you that lords are not remarkable 
for grammar, and I understand that this manuscript is 
even more full of faults than is usually the case. T shall 
feel obliged by your taking it in hand. The copy, in its 
present shape, will make about two hundred and fifty pages, 
and I must stretch it out into two volumes octavo." 

" That appears rather a difficult matter, Mr. Belloes, un- 
less by large additions. May I ask to what country the 
travels refer ? " 

" Oh ! they are of importance; the Duke has travelled by 
special permission in Siberia, and this book is to represent 
the result, from which much is expected. However, you 
have carte blanche, and will find no difficulty in obtaining 
ample matter from French and German sources. The 
honorarium we can afford to give is MO, and ] shall be 



litehaht prospects. 26? 

glad to receive the manuscript at your earliest conve- 
nience, as it must appear this season." 

" But don't you think this system rather unfair to all 
parties? " 

" O dear.no ! it's a very simple matter. The public must 
be tickled with a great name, or else it will not buy books 
in the present forcing age ; and surely, Mr. Dashwood, in 
the sincere wish to impart valuable information, such as I 
am sura yours wiil prove, you will regard it as an honour 
that your efforts should be introduced under the auspices of 
a lord." 

" But I do not exactly see how I shall be benefited, Mr. 
Belloes." 

" Oh ! you are too punctilious, Mr. Dashwood. I under- 
stood from our mutual friend, Mr. Bunciman, that you 
wished to live by your literary exertions, and hence I made 
this application to you. But do not hesitate about declin- 
ing it if you think it unworthy of your abilities ; I can find 
plenty of gentlemen who will be delighted with the offer." 

" Well, I suppose my poverty if not my will must con- 
sent, so I accept your proposition, and will set to work at 
once." 

" Very good, and any works you may require for reference 
will be procured you, if you send in their names." 

Charles, on reading the manuscript intrusted to him, 
found it even more slip-slop and useless than he bad anti- 
cipated. More than two-thirds referred to an interview with 
the Emperor, who had magnetised the Duke with his 
historic eye ; and the remainder was made up of trivial 
anecdotes intended for the sole glorification of the great 
man. It seemed as if the manuscript had been written by 
Jenkins, clothed for awhile in a valet's attire — perhaps it 
was. The task Charles had was not an easy one ; for the 
Duke, while coolly assuming the whole credit, thought 
proper to cavil at assertions made, and, with a parcel of old 
cronies at the Carlton Club, m?de the most amusing shots 
at historical facts. Two or three sheets had to be cancelled 
and rewritten, because they bore too closely on the imperial 
character, and altogether Charles had a very thankless 
task, poorly compensated by £50. Nor w.-is he parti- 
cularly pleased at the unanimous burst of adulatory ap- 
proval which the papers broke out in at the publication 
of the ducal travels; for, as the Aihenaum recently said 
about a book by another duke, " if a lord who ventures 
into priut must be treated with respect, according to the 



208 WILD OATS. 

Johnsonian rule, what can be done with a duke?" To add 
to his annoyance hi3 literary friends persistently chaffed 
my hero about his travels, and made farther inquiries as to 
his interesting visit to the gold mines of Siberia, of which 
he brought home a specimen coined by Mr. Belloes into 
fifty solid sovereigns. 

But the work did him no harm in the long run; it was a 
very careful compilation, and altogether lied like truth ; and 
my young friend's name stood high in the publishing mar- 
ket as that of a man who could be trusted. And this is a 
great point toward success, for I am sorry to say that the 
gentlemen who are generally summoned by publishers to 
undertake jobs of this nature sometimes take advantage of 
the opportunity to obtain considerable advances, and the 
copy is consequently deferred. The rule appears to be that 
if a man has been paid for work to be done, he is very apt 
to neglect it for the sake of other work, the payment of 
which depends on its accomplishment. Altogether, then, 
Charles was steadily progressing, but we must remember 
that he worked indefatigably, and was a pattern of propriety. 
His only relaxation was in writing letters to his Helen, 
who was in marvellous spirits, and sure that things would 
turn out well yet, although she had not hinted a word to 
him about Julie's revelations, as she was determined that, 
until the papers were in her possession to prove her legiti- 
macy, she would not allow Charles's claim to her hand. 

Helen had heard nothing further from Julie, however, 
since she had sent the money, and the return of the amount 
soon after through the banker left her completely at sea as 
to the results of Julie's search after her Count. Still, the 
suspense garve her something to think about, and removed 
her anxiety to seek solace in the society of Madame von 
Tulpenhain's friends, which I do not think did any harm 
to her moral welfare. 



CLOUD-LAND. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

CLOUD-LAND. 



The Convolvulus Gardens were in all their glory. The 
usual lying announcement of many extra millions of 
coloured lamps had attracted the public at the commeme- 
ment of the season, and the excitement had been main- 
tained at red heat by all sorts of ingenious devices. Dancing 
dogs, ballets, tight-rope performances, had succeeded each 
other with startling speed, and Mr Bumpus chuckled as he 
counted over his gains, and regarded the highly satisfactory 
balance at his banker's, which was a most agreeable novelty. 
The more pleased was be at the thought that he bad 
hitherto only gone through the Bankruptcy Court three 
times as a respectable tradesman, and his creditors had no 
power to touch his earnings. Had he fallen into the 
clutches of the Insolvent Court there would have been a 
constant threat hanging over him in terrorem, and bis 
legitimate earnings would have been seized. This is a hint 
for fast young men: if they find themselves going down 
the road so fast that they have not time to put the skid on, 
they had better start in the horse dealing line, which will 
secure them from all future unpleasantness. 

For the finale of the season Mr. Bumpus had hit on a 
glorious scheme — neither more nor less than a lottery for 
seats in Professor Simmonds' car during his nocturnal 
ascents. It is true that people fought shy of this, as the 
professor let off fireworks beneath the car on his ascent, 
and there was a chance of a rocket going upwards instead 
of downwards, and setting the balloon on fire. Still people 
liked to speculate on the chance Of winning a ticket : even 
if they did not make use of it, it was something to talk 
about at home, and the man who " could have gone up in a 
balloon" became " a person" in the domestic circle for at 
least three days. 

Charley, feeling the necessity of some amusement aftei a 
fortnight's hard work, began studying the dead walls, and 
the flaming placards of the Convolvulus Gardens, with a 
woodcut of a balloon, decided him. I must do him the credit, 
however, to state that the danciDg rotunda, with the cijr- 



270 WILD OATS. 

tainty of partners, bod nothing to do with this decision ; 
he had put away childish things for good, and visited the 
Convolvulus Gardens more as a character student than for 
the sake of meretricious amusement. But, after all, it was 
slow; you soon grow tired of watching improper characters 
and linen drapers flirting, and you cannot go on drinking 
bottled porter all night through. The most amusing thing 
was the poses plastiques, in which a motherly looking woman, 
who ought to have known better, appeared as Venus attired 
by the Graces; but the feeling soon merged into one of 
sorrow that a poor woman should be compelled, for the sake 
of a starving family, to go through a performance so utterly 
subversive of all feelings of womanly dignity. 

At length the successful tickets were announced, and, of 
course, Charles's was not one of them ; but he had a great 
fancy to go up in a balloon, much stimulated thereunto by 
Albert Smith's graphic account of his perilous ascent, and 
cast about for means to carry out his intention. Chance 
favoured him, for while strolling about and trying to catch 
the professor, he was witness of a most interesting family 
group. 

A chubby-looking young woman, with three small chil- 
dren, was hanging on to the skirts of a mechanic in his 
Sunday clothes, to the dire peril of his dress coat. It seemed 
that he had gained a seat, and was insisting on his right to 
make use of it. His wife naturally objected to this, and a 
fine struggle between love and pride had ensued. The man 
was half afraid, that could be seen at a glance, and yet he 
did not like to give in; so Charley made his appearance as 
a veritable deus ex machind. 

" I think I can help you, ma'am," he said most politely; 
" if your husband likes to take a crown for his ticket I will 
give it." 

" There, John, n^w you have no excuse. Take the gentle- 
man's offer at once, and I'm much obliged to you, sir, 
I'm sure. My husband has bad a drop too much, or he 
wouldn't be so foolish. Come, John, take the five shillings, 
and we'll go and have some gin and water." 

This bait was too attractive ; the man gladly consented to 
the sale, and Charles walked off, followed by the blessings 
of the young woman, intermingled with regrets that such a 
nice looking young man was going to meet certain death to 
save her husband from it. 

In the meanwhile the wind had got up quickly, and some 
dark, menacing storm-clouds were gathering on the horizon. 



CLOUD LAND. 271 

This foreboding of bad weather soon dissipated tbe slight 
courage which the other ticket holders had hitherto kept up 
by libations to the spirit god, and eventually Charles 
was left alone to brave the perils of the air with the pro- 
fessor. The latter gentleman was busily engaged with his 
preparations, and perhaps glad in his heart at having got 
rid of so much useless ballast, which he could not throw 
overboard unfortunately. Still he found time to reply to 
Charles's whisper as to what was his favourite beverage, and 
four bottles of sherry were soon stowed safely away in the 
car. Charles then took his seat by the side of the pro- 
fessor, the balloon rapidly slid down the liberating iron, and 
the earth gradually receded from tbe balloon. 

I say advisedly the earth receded, for so motionless did 
tbe balloon appear, that it gave the impression that the 
earth was moving, not the machine. The professor stooped 
over the car and pulled a string which set off the fireworks, 
and at the same time allowed the frame to drop a consider- 
able distance from the balloon, to insure it from danger. 
The fire burnt out harmlessly, and a couple of bags of 
sand sent over the side soon drove the huge machine beyond 
danger. The professor then found time to seat himself and 
tackle the sherry. 

" As soon as we have got through this dark cloud," he 
said, " we shall be in a perfect calm. The fools down there 
did not know that, but fancied we should have to face the 
wind. All the better I say, for they are a perfect nuisance, 
and destroy all the poetry of the ascent by their absurd 
cackling. And it is a beautiful sight, you will allow. Look 
over the side of the car at that huge metropolis of ours. 
Don't be frightened ; hold on by the rope, and you cannot 
fall out." 

Charles took a rapid glance at the city stretched out be- 
neath his feet, and in truth it was a wonderful sight. They 
were drifting slowly along in an easterly direction, and the 
effect of cloud-land was truly magical, as the rift every now 
and then allowed a glance at the city, and the closing 
clouds shut it out from sight again. The great thorough- 
fares could be traced by their regular lights, while here 
and there a brighter illumination revealed the temple of the 
demon of gin. By degrees they passed away ; the sparing 
lights showed the balloon was following the track of a 
suburban road, and at length they reached the open coun- 
try, and all around was darkness. 

"lam surprised," said Charles, " that I experience no sen- 



WILD OATS. 

sation beyond one of unalloyed pleasure. I bad thought I 
should feel nervous, but the idea is absurd. But this groping 
in darkness visible is very curious — no landmark to know- 
in what direction we are progressing — no knowing where we 
shall make land. What a pity there is no possibility of 
managing these unwieldy machines, and reducing them to 
the control of the master spirit, man ! It seems strange 
that he should be so defied by an element, and it is some- 
what humiliating too." 

"I am afraid that the consummation will never come 
about. I have tried every experiment that has been sug- 
gested, except, of course, those which are dangerous or too 
expensive ; but, so long as the mechanism is applied to the 
car, it will be impossible to check the headstrong move- 
ments of the great gas-bag above us." 

Mr. Simmonds was evidently beginning to learn wisdom ; 
perhaps before long he will give up his republican notioua 
and become a pattern citizen. 

" I should think that the life of an aeronaut must be a 
strange medley of accidents. I wonder whether any office 
would insure your life." 

" And yet there is a glorious fascination about it — this 
utter freedom from the world and its pettiness is an ample 
reward for dangers. I have had as many accidents as auy 
man, yet I cannot give up my profession. I suppose some 
day 1 shall be killed, and then there's an end of Job Sim- 
monds. People will say he was a feather-brained fool, and 
has been rightly punished for his folly ; and yet, believe me, sir, 
I have always striven to act conscientiously, and draw such 
advantages from the balloon as I think it capable of giving to 
humanity. I live in hope yet to bring it to some degree of 
perfection; and, if so, my name may rank with that of George 
Stephenson. In fact, I have a clear conscience void of offence, 
and can go down to my grave calmly. I have looked death 
so often in the face that he has no terrors for me. I have 
broken every bone in my body; I have suffered losses innu- 
merable; my balloon has been burnt or destroyed seven 
times, and yet I go on. You may think me a lunatic— per- 
haps I am ; still I would not exchange places with the 
Queen — except that I might hang the First Lord." 

And the professor, having thus edged in his favourite 
topic, poured forth his wrongs into Charles's wearied ear. 
Still there was so much sound sense mixed up with bis 
lunacy, and such evident overflowing of the milk of human 
kindness, that Charles listened sorrowfully, while respecting 



CLOUD-LAND. 273 

a man who devoted himself with such earnestness of pur- 
pose to a profession so utterly hopeless of result. 

" By Jove, Mr. Simmonds," Charles said, after a long dia- 
tribe from the professor, " you ought to write your life ; it 
would prove far more interesting than one-half the books 
now published." 

" Do you really think so ? " said the little man, visibly 
elated ; " do you fancy the public would take any interest in 
the humble professor? To tell you the truth, I have 
already thought on the subject, and have jotted down some 
loose notes; but they require careful editing, and putting 
into an attractive form." 

"Well, I daresay I can help you, if you like to trust to 
my weak pen. As I belong to the noble army of authors, 
I should have no objection to offer you my services to put 
your manuscripts ship-shape." 

" Shake hands, my dear sir ; the crowning ambition of 
Job Simmonds' life is on the point of being fulfilled. You 
do not know how happy you make me by the offer. I am 
even happier than when I fell out of the parachute, and 
found I had only broken my collar-bone." 

And this strange comparison was meant in all sincerity. 
But Charles's feeling of security was invaded by a very 
ominous sound above his head, strongly suggestive of the bal- 
loon having burst; his companion, however, re-assured him. 

" Oh, it's nothing; the gas is expanding, and filling up 
all the silk of the balloon. It often grows hard in places 
when lying by, and we never fill more than two-thirds, 
trusting to the expansion. 'Tis a curious sound, but all is 
safe. And now, to return to our interesting topic, you would 
really feel disposed to help me in making my history known ? 
if so, I think I could do something to benefit you in my 
humble way. The manager of the Tricolor is an old friend 
of mine, and is anxious to secure the services of a gentleman 
conversant with French and German, to attend to the in- 
terests of his paper while he is engaged abroad. I feel sure 
that be would gladly avail himself of your services, and, if 
so, will you meet me to-morrow at the office, when we can 
talk matters over ? " 

"Agreed," said Charles ; " but look at that pale gleam of 
light on the horizon : surely the sun is rising." 

" It is so, and you will speedily see one of the most magni- 
ficent sights in nature. But I wish the wind would change ) 
with the rising sun, for I am afraid we shall be blown out 
to sea, and, although I have my • safety car,' made to stand 

i 



274 WILD OATS. 

water, it is not very comfortable to be floating about hap- 
hazard, and have nothing to eat." 

Mr. Simmonds, however, like a cautious general, made all 
the requisite preparations for security by dragging up the 
firework frame close to the bottom of the car, and disen- 
tangling the life and grappling lines. In the meantime the 
sun rose gorgeously, and threw a yellow tinge over the sea : 
gradually it spread, and tinged the summits of the surround- 
ing hills, till suddenly, as if by magic, the mist curtain was 
withdrawn, and the earth lay at their feet, suffused in one 
liquid bath of light. The professor, however, regarded it all 
very tranquilly, and made various attempts to grapple with 
the land. Unfortunately the coast was very nude of trees, 
and a lurch at any hapless hedge met with no resistance. 

" We shall have to take to the sea I am afraid, sir," he 
said, in a very dolorous voice ; " the water has such a 
tendency to drag the balloon down, and I have no ballast 
left to try and rise into higher currents, so look out for 
a cold bath. But stay, there is one chance left : I will have 
a cast at that clump of trees; if the grapple holds we are 
caved." 

With practised eye the professor heaved the grappling 
iron : it dragged heavily over the trees, trying in vain to 
hold them, and the professor was just giving up in despair 
when a fence pulled them up. The balloon, checked iu its 
impetus, bounded madly, as if ready to burst the offending 
ligature which bound it so unwilling to earth ; but it was at 
length forced to yield, and gradually settled down, Mr. Sim- 
monds tugging manfully the while at the valve-line. 

"Jump up on the hoop, Mr. Dashwood," he shouted; 
" we shall have a heavy fall, and you may break your leg." 

And, with the activity of a wild cat, the professor jumped 
up the rigging, and sat serenely smiling at the havoc below. 
Charles just succeeded in performing the same feat when 
the car struck the ground with an angry thud, as if desirous 
to dig a hole iu it, and scattering everything it contained in 
the wildest confusion. Up it bounced again, as if, Antseus-like, 
it had gained fresh strength by the contact, and went through 
the same pleasing performance some half-dozen times, the 
gas rushing out the while with a roar of defiance. At length 
the monster was subdued, and lay there an inert mass, fran- 
tically heaving its huge sides, and still striving to burst its 
bonds; but the professor and Charles sprang out,-and began 
expelling the gas by pressing on the silk, and throwing 
their whole weight upon it. 



CLOUD-LAND. 275 

At length the rustics began to collect, roused from their 
dull, apathetic toil by the unwonted guest ; but no persua- 
sions would induce them to lay hands on the balloon. 
"They did not like the look of 'un," was their remark, and 
they evidently regarded it as some visitant from the other 
world. But soon the farmer made his appearance with his 
sons, fine stalwart young fellows, ready to face a Russian 
battery, and they lent their welcome assistance in bring- 
ing the balloon to submission. Within a very short time 
the silk was ignominiously packed into the car, and the 
whole lifted on to a waggon, to be carried to the nearest 
station. Mr. Simmonds distributed all his loose silver 
among the gaping rustics, who had a fine throat for beer, 
and his popularity attained its zenith. 

The farmer very politely invited them to breakfast, a 
meal they were very glad to have after their long passage 
through the air. Nor did they despise the home-brewed set 
before them in lieu of the domestic tea-pot. Then they 
started off for town, and parted, on the understanding that 
Charles should attend at the Tricolor office the next day, 
and talk matters over — Mr. Simmonds cabbing it to the 
Convolvulus Gardens to settle with Mr. Bumpus, while 
Charles went to his Camden Town home and model- 
sitting. 

It was strange, though, what fascination ballooning had 
exercised over him so rapidly. Although, before the trial, he 
would have joined in the common cry of" balloonatics," now 
that he had experienced the sensation evoked by sailing 
through the air, he could perfectly well understand how 
people could devote their whole life and fortune to the 
profession. You feel, in truth, such a remarkable buoyancy 
and lightness when up in the clouds, that you regard with 
contempt the world, with its concomitant dunning; you feel 
master of yourself and your motions, and, however much 
you may owe, you are certain of not visiting Ikey Moss — so 
long, at any rate, as you avoid contact with the earth. 
Then there is some satisfaction to a discontented mind in 
being able to empty your sand-bags in the faces of the mob 
— a species of insult which you can indulge in safely, without 
fear of being punished for it. And there is, too, in a baliooti 
ascent, a certain feeling of risk run (although, in truth, with 
a skilful aeronaut, it is just as safe as a locomotive), which 
is a stimulus to every man who is worth a pin. In short, [ 
wonder that more persons do not avail themselves of this 
pleasing excitement. Probably this arises from the few 



276 WILD OATS. 

aerial machines existing, and the thought that, if you were 
killed, people would say it served you right. 

Charles, as a provident youth, looked to a rapid return 
of his outlay, and dressed up his aerial trip into a very 
amusing article, which appeared soon after, and contained a 
due glorification of Mr. Simmonds, much to that gentle- 
man's gratification, for he was as greedy of flattery as a 
woman. Then, having nothing better to do, he called, in 
on Eunciman, and listened to that worthy gentleman's 
sarcastic remarks on men and things, which always made 
him melancholy. There is something very searing to a 
young mind in the practised cynicism of one's elders ; and 
Mr. Eunciman carried that heartlessness which is peculiar 
to the Keats destroyers to a fearful pitch. If he had any 
particular failing it was an intense disgust for young lite- 
rary aspirants, whom he strove to put down like Sir Peter 
Laurie the organ-grinders, and at the period of my hero's 
visit was busily engaged in cutting up a new and successful 
poet. If it was bitterness to him to find the new author 
read, it was gall when his eagle eye could not detect a fault 
on which to pounce. The verses were full of poetry, and the 
grammar had in no instance been sacrificed to the exigen- 
cies of the rhyme. Hence Mr. Eunciman was driven to 
the last refuge of baffled critics — he detected one or two 
printers' errors, and- upon this scanty basis heaped up a 
mountain of abuse, clothed in the choicest literary Billings- 
gate. Having thus fulfilled his duties as a critic, and grati- 
fied his feelings as a fellow author, Mr. Eunciman accepted 
an invitation to dinner from Charley. It was wonderful 
what an appetite he had; the ghoul-like repast he had just 
enjoyed in picking the bones of a luckless author only 
served as a stimulus, and he attacked Simpson's old port 
with a perseverance worthy of a better cause. 

In the evening I am sorry to say Charles also gave way to 
his bad feelings. An author, a man of mark, produced a new 
play full of talent, and in a fair way to satisfy the acknow- 
ledged want of the day. Unfortunately the author was him- 
self a critic, and had discharged his duties conscientiously 
hy waging dire warfare against the whole breed of adapters 
from the French. The occasion to repay him for past favours 
could not be neglected, and the house was thronged with 
literary men, determined that the play should not succeed. 
The beauties of diction and action which it contained only 
served as occasion for shouts of laughter, and in the midst 
of the most pathetic scenes a rictus horribilis overpowered 



THE THICOLOB. 277 

the worthiest exertions of the actors. These, too, met by a 
storm of opposition, soon lost heart, for it was impossible 
to gain distinction in the face of such determined enemies. 
The curtain fell at the close of the third act, not to rise 
again, and the manager was compelled to come forward and 
announce the piece withdrawn. 

" The Lord protect me," Charles said to himself very 
fervently, " from ever finishing my play, if that is the way 
in which a honest attempt to fill up the great vacuum is 
met. Men are all raving about the degeneracy of the 
drama and the French invasion, and yet when an author 
brings out a good play they unite heart and soul to burke 
it. Commend me to literary men, if I want support in 
striking out a new path." 

The army of adapters had triumphed; mechanism had 
gained the night over talent, and the theatres were handed 
over to the French. The brilliant successes which ensued, 
and which led two managers by devious paths to the 
Bankruptcy Court, were a sufficient proof of the present 
healthy condition of the drama, and the utter folly of those 
who devote their energies honestly and conscientiously to 
its revival. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

THE TRICOLOR. 



At the appointed time Charles found himself at the office 
of the Tricolor, which was situated in a gloomy court lead- 
ing from a labyrinthine network of other courts near 
Leicester Square. The office was on the first floor of a 
cafe, no other than our friend Zampa's, and was certainly 
very convenient for the contributors, who spent three parts 
of their time and all their earnings in the dingy coffee- 
room, writing their copy on backs of old letters, and produ- 
cing the most impossible medley of bad English and foreign 
languages. 

The manager of the paper, I need hardly say, was a Pole; 
and Charles, on entering the editorial sanctum, found him 
busily engaged with the professor in discussing a pot of 
half-and-half, the only beverage which foreigners really 
afiection in brumous England. Poor Malibran, the poet 



278 WILD OATS. 

Buun tells us in his amusing melange, " The Stage," coulo- 
only get through the music of the " Maid of Artois" by 
being deluged with porter, and a negro in the suite of the 
wicked Marquis carried in a gourd round his neck a pint of 
that mellifluous beverage. I only hope Bunn took care to 
procure it direct from the brewers, and not expose the great 
singer to the tender mercies of the " house round the 
corner." If he did not, I am afraid a jury of "thirsty 
souls" would have condemned him as the cause of her pre- 
mature death by administering slow poison in the shape of 
cocculus Indicus. 

The professor had not forgotten his autobiography, for a 
huge pile of papers and books stared Charley in the face, 
as representing the few jottings to which the professor bad 
alluded, but which would have filled a moderately sized 
cart. But M. Wolkonski saved Charley from the im- 
pending assault by suggesting that the basiness of the 
paper should be transacted first, and the professor, after 
some coquetting, was obliged to yield assent. 

The Tricolor was a very curious paper, which had been 
carried on in London since the revolution of 1848. No 
one knew who was the proprietor, or where the money 
came from to conduct it. At any rate it paid all its ex- 
penses, and that certainly was not out of the sale, which 
rarely amounted to a dozen copies weekly as far as Eng- 
land was concerned. The remainder of the edition was 
smuggled into France and Germany; but what good it 
could do, except in promoting the study of English, it 
would be difficult to decide. Altogether I fancy it was a 
failure; but that was no concern of Charley's. He was 
offered very liberal terms by the manager, £i a week, and 
he would be required to attend tc the getting out of the 
paper, translating articles and correcting English being the 
chief part of his duties. The principles the paper advo- 
cated were free trade and constitutionalism, and there was 
none of that rampant republicanism which Charles had an- 
ticipated. On the contrary, it was extremely moderate, 
and my hero was lost in amazement that it should be 
found necessary to smuggle so innocuous a journal into 
continental circulation. For my own part I believe the 
governments would not have interfered with the twaddle 
bad it been openly paraded on the market-places ; but your 
true republican must affect mystery, and go a mile round to 
reach a point fifty yards off. 

Charles had nothing to do with the pecuniary arrange- 



THE TRICOLOR. 279 

merits of the journal : those were all settled by M. Wob 
konski, who made up for the extravagant payment of the 
sub-editor by cutting down the unhappy refugees, who had 
to tone their republicanism and write about things they 
did not understand at the rate of five shillings a column 
Poor Charley was sorry to his heart when his inexorable 
pen cut the articles to pieces, and reduced a pound to the 
more modest proportions of seven and sixpence, and the 
imploring cries of the unhappy writers rang in his ears. 
At last, however, he grew used to it, and became, I am sorry 
to say, a true editorial tyrant. But there was one leader, 
written sometimes in French, sometimes in English, which 
he was never allowed to touch or correct, however faulty it 
might appear; it must be set up exactly from the copy, 
and the greatest care taken that it was followed word for 
word. It was not till long after that Charles discovered 
the secret : it was a judiciously arranged cipher, by which 
the fraternal democrats made known their wants and wishes 
to their allies in France, and paved the way, as they fondly 
hoped, for the regeneration of the continent, not forgetting 
their own prospective aggrandisement. 

But Charles had to pay a bitter penalty for his office by 
being bored out of his life by the professor, who, now 
thoroughly afflicted by the cacoethes of authorship, was 
constantly at his heels to watch the progress of the great 
work. It was almost impossible, however, to carry it into 
effect; for the professor wrote the most extraordinary fist 
conceivable, and was very fond of repetition, so that when 
Charley had waded through a mass of copy, correcting 
here, erasing there, and hoped he had completed a portion 
of his task, the very next pile would contain precisely the 
same story, but so blended with new matter that he could 
not cancel it, and yet could not use it. At length he was 
obliged to offer the professor that he would write the book 
from his manuscript data, but to this Mr. Simmonds could 
not assent. He was desirous to be the sole author, and 
very naturally assumed that no one could write his life with 
such unction as himself. Fortunately he was called out of 
town by a provincial engagement, and, managing to break 
iris arm during a descent by a violent collision with a 
ehimney-pot, Charles was saved from his waylaying for 
awhile, and enabled to progress with his second novel and 
the great De Thou editing, which Bunciman had handed 
i>ver to him entirely. The Tricolor occupied but a short 
I'ortion of his time, and he was earning money much 



280 WILD OATS. 

faster than he could spend it; but, of course, he soon 
found occasion to get rid of his savings. 

I do not know how it is that people manage to save 
money and retire from business with so many thousands of 
pounds. They do not appear to begrudge themselves any 
luxury or comfort, and yet they are coining .money the 
while. You do not hear of such things happening to 
authors except on rare occasions. Some men certainly 
make a great success with a book, and, their name being up 
in the market, are paid tremendously for every line they 
write, and I can understand how they lay by a few thou- 
sands; but they are very rare. We have had lamentable 
instances but very recently of the hand-to-mouth existence 
which even our greatest writers lead, and leave their family 
to the charity of their literary brethren, which, I am glad 
to say, is never invoked in vain. Still it is a curious trait 
that this so rarely happens in other professions. If Dr. 
Squills, after struggling through life in the pursuit of 
slippery guineas, and with a large small family, yields to 
the unequal contest, we do not find public appeals made for 
the support of that family, as they are for the author's 
family, members of which are, probably, able to procure 
their own ample livelihood, while Dr. Squill's children must 
have a large sum spent upon them before they are ready 
for any profession. An author's materials are so simple. 
A ream of paper, a sheaf of pens, and a bottle of ink are 
not very expensive ; and a club, or even a brass plate on a 
respectable door, is a cheap luxury. 

I will allow that an author has a thousand claims upon 
hiin which the grocer or the linen-draper is unacquainted 
with. So soon as a man's name is up in the literary market 
he becomes the prey of a multitude of drones, who hang 
on to the skirts of literature, and earn an easy livelihood by 
begging letters. It is to the credit of our great writers 
that they so liberally respond to the appeal; but still I do 
not think that justifies them in forgetting the golden rule 
that " charity begins at home." An author dependent solely 
on his pen is in a very precarious position : a sudden illness 
may reduce him to poverty, or the overwrought brain give 
way at the moment when the most pressing claims are 
made upon it. Then what is left but the miserable remem- 
brances of sums thrown away, one tithe of which would 
secure comfort and respectability ? The consciousness of 
having spent an active life in the exercise of the most un- 
grudging charity will not, in this matter-of-fact world, 



THE TRICOLOR. 281 

supply the want of nourishing food, and an author is forced 
to the awful knowledge that the only chance for his family 
to prosper is in his leaving the world, and exciting that 
sympathy which a great calamity or sudden shock to 
society never fails in producing. 

With the younger tribe of authors, among whom Charles 
Dash wood is enrolled, the want of a saving propensity 
is perhaps excusable. It is rare that a man at starting 
can secure a position rendering him independent. He 
has generally to trust to the waifs and strays of literature, 
and the refusal of an article may keep him for awhile 
without bread. Hence he is very apt to enjoy the present, 
and, so long as money comes in, he is inclined to spend it 
as a compensation for past poverty. " Live while you live" 
appears to be the motto of authors. 

Charles Dashwood had passed through this dangerous 
ordeal ; he had known all the sweets and bitters of literary 
life, and, now that he had secured a permanent engagement, 
and was in a fair way to fortune, he determined to save 
money for any rainy day. But, that it is far easier to form 
such resolves than to carry them into effect, Charles soon 
learned, and, though he was quite blameless for the way 
which his money went, the fact remains the same. 

He was walking along Fleet Street meditating on some 
trifles, and wholly engaged with them, when he felt a light 
hand laid on his shoulder, and heard an exclamation, 
'' Mr. Dashwood! Thank God, then, I am saved !" 

He turned round quickly, and saw a lady concealed in a 
deep veil and thick cloak, who beckoned him to follow her 
into a side street. She then threw up her veil, and ex- 
claimed in a hollow voice, " My God ! he does not know 
me. Am I so changed then, Mr. Dashwood, that you can- 
not remember Flora Delancy, whom you once flattered foi 
her beautiful face ? " 

Charles fell back in horror; he could not have believed 
that the wretched, care-worn woman who now stood before 
him had been so recently the pride of Giirkenhof and the 
adoration of the portrait painters. Her features had fallen 
in, and she was altogether the picture of abject misery. 
The large cloak she wore as it flew open displayed a coarse 
linen dress, which could be but poor protection from the 
nipping cold wind that swept across the bridges. 

" Yes, Mr. Dashwood, you see before you a truly 
wretched woman. Who would have believed that such a 
fate was in store for me? The once admired girl has 



282 WILD OATS. 

reached womanhood only to become a beggar now, some- 
thing worse hereafter" — and she shuddered, though not with 
the cold — " uuless you will hold out a helping hand. 
Charles ! — let me call you by that name, for it reminds 
me of happier times — I feel sure you will not desert me in 
this great hour of affliction. I have no friend but you, 
and it was surely God's mercy when I met you. I had but 
a choice between a life of sin or a death of suicide, and I 
could not make up my mind as to which would be sooner 
pardoned by an offended Creator." 

" But tell me, where is your husband? I understood you 
left England with him after the last Derby." 

"Do you see that mark?" she said fiercely, pointing to 
the sanguine wale which scarred her face. " That was my 
last parting with my husband. I could have forgiven him 
everything — the loss of my money, the wantoD wreck of my 
happiness ; but when he threw me into the way of tempta- 
tion, and coarsely called me a fool because I complained to 
him of attentions which no married woman could mistake, 
then I could read the utter blackness of his heart, and spurned 
him as much as I had loved him before. I passionately 
upbraided him for his villany, and the coward felled me to 
the earth with his riding-whip : the mark I shall carry with 
me to the grave. Maddened with the pain, and almost 
unconscious, I wandered out on to the busy Boulevards ir» 
search of I know not what. At length fatigue compelled 
me to return home, and I found that my husband had 
deserted me, carrying off everything of value, even to my 
wearing apparel. The shock threw me on a bed of illness, 
and I quitted it the wreck you now see me. By the sale of 
my watoh I managed to pay for the few comforts bestowed 
on me during my illness, and came over here with my poor 
infant in search of my mother." 

" Surely she did something for you — she offered you a 
home?" 

" My poor hoy," Flora said, with a bitter smile, " you are 
sadly innocent of the motives which influence the fashion- 
able world. Had not my husband fled the country in dis- 
grace I might have been forgiven; but his name was a 
byword, and not mentioned. Hence my mother, irritated 
by her connection with him, received my entreaties with a 
sneer, and forbade me the house. She had no daughter, was 
her reply to my passionate appeals. The next time I called 
at her house she had gone to the continent. I had no one 
to help me, and took humble lodgings, where I remained, 



THE TRICOLOR. 283 

hoping to hide my shame, till my money wa9 exhausted. 
This morning I received notice to leave uiy lodgings, for 
my landlady, though a kind-hearted woman, could not afford 
to let me keep a room, on the letting of which her livelihood 
depended. I urged her to take charge of my child while 
I went to make a last appeal. I called on Lady Cantrip, 
an old schoolfellow, who I thought would assist me in re- 
membrance of past days. She, too, was out of town, and, 
starvation staring me in the face, I became reckless. For- 
tunately I met you, and feel that I am saved." 

It was impossible for Charles to reject this appeal ; so, 
after a hurried conference with his pocket, he determined 
on placing Mrs. Fitzspavin in lodgings at his own expense 
until something might turn up. He hurried off in a 
cab to pay her arrears of rent and redeem her child, and 
soon after had the satisfaction of seeing her comfortably 
sheltered in a lodging near his own. But it was a long time 
before Flora could procure anything of advantage to herself, 
and hence he set her to work translating some German 
children's books, which he thought might meet with a ready 
demand from the publishers. I do not think he ever felt a 
heartier glow of satisfaction than when he handed Flora 
i£20 as the result of her labours, and told her more work 
was in readiness for her. 

In the meanwhile the Tricolor went on its slow progress, 
remaining almost stationary in point of fact. The same 
mysterious conferences took place in M. Wolkonski's room 
with bearded strangers, who appeared, only to disappear 
again. The state of Europe continued the same in spite of 
the adjurations breathed through the leader of the Tricolor, 
and the tranquillity based on bayonets secured the normal 
condition of France. Cavaignac had dealt that terrible 
blow to the revolutionary party in July, 1848, from which 
it has not yet recovered, and had paved the way for his 
successor, after meeting with the usual fate of political 
leaders. He had been adored, then commented on; abused, 
and, worst stage of all, despised, and that is moral death for 
a Frenchman. Look at poor old Lamartine, and say, with 
his fate staring you in the face, whether the president of a 
republic sleeps on a bed of roses. He served as a lightning 
conductor so long as he was wanted, and then was taken 
down and sold for less than his value as old iron. 

At length, however, the Tricolor moved from its torpor, 
and great was the congregation of Poles and others in the 
dingy office. From morning till night they gabbled about 



234 



WILD OATS 



revolution, and besieged M. Wolkouski for money to pay 
their expenses to the scene of action. The insurrection 
had been initiated in Pumpernickel; the cause of the 
people was triumphing at last, and the example would in- 
dubitably be followed through the whole length and breadth 
of Germany. They must not be clanking their fetters as 
the sole response to the appeal of their country, and Wol- 
kouski must give them money to go with. That gentleman 
was sadly put to it in his attempts to stop the mouths of 
all the claimants, but by some mysterious process suc- 
ceeded, and the office was tranquil for awhile. 

The insurrection in Pumpernickel was spreading over 
the whole of that benighted country, the Grand Duke had 
fled, and the government was in the hands of the popular 
leaders. For the cause of liberty it was essential that the 
Tricolor should be represented at the scene of action, and 
Wolkonski proposed to Charles that he should go out as 
correspondent with a magnificent salary. As an English- 
man he would be enabled to judge for himself, and could 
gauge the temper of the surrounding peoples. 

Charles, like a fool, gladly consented to this offer. Est 
natura hominum novitatis avida, and he would be delighted 
to exchange his present hum-drum existence for awhile for 
the turmoil of civil war. Besides, he felt some apprehen- 
sion about Helen's security, and an anxiety to see her, 
which could he so easily gratified. Hence he spurned the 
advice of his sager frieuds, who recommended him to have 
nothing to do with such a ticklish affair. He might get him- 
self imprisoned for years, and it was not so easy to emerge 
from a German prison when once shut up in it. Eunci- 
man was the most zealous opponent of the scheme, pro- 
bably fearing that De Thou would be thrown on his hands 
again ; but it was all of no avail. Charles was determined 
to go, and laughed at all thoughts of danger. The con- 
sciousness of being a civis Britannicus armed him against 
all thought of risk, and he fancied he should have a very 
pleasant summer tour. 

But if be believed he was going to leave England unobserved 
he wafj egregiously mistaken. The secret police of the em- 
bassies had their eye upon him, and on every one connected 
with the Tricolor, and it was not likely that the editor of 
that firebrand, as they termed it, would leave his duties 
without some reference being made to it among the contri- 
butors. Hence the same mail-boat which bore Charles to 
Ostende carried a very distinct signalment of my hero, 



THE TRICOLOR. 285 

addressed to the various police offices. He was described 
as a violent partisan of the red republicans, and a danger- 
ous demagogue, and measures would be taken to stop him 
when he evinced the slightest disposition to kick up a row. 
But Charles frustrated their schemes very unconsciously. 
Having plenty of money in his pocket, and feeling no parti- 
cular inclination to hasten to the scene of action, he diverged 
to Paris, where he intended to stay a week, and enter Pum- 
pernickel from the Strasbourg side. The police were com- 
pletely thrown out, and vented their spite by annoying 
every Englishman who fell in their clutches; but Charles 
was so far safe. 

But he found no great inducement to stay any length of 
time in Paris. That city was like a city of the dead, with 
an ominous cloud brooding over it, suggestive of coming 
bloodshed. The Prince President was beginning that 
system, which he eventually carried out so cleverly, of stul- 
tifying the constituent assembly, and a small attempt at 
insurrection had just been crushed by the wonderful mastery 
he displayed in the way of handling troops and rendering 
an emeute impossible. The finest proof of this he gave 
on the memorable deux Decembre, when he allowed the 
insurrectionists to assemble without let or hinderance, and 
choose their battle-field. He held them like a rat in a 
trap, and the lesson he read the Parisians on that occasion 
was written in such blood-red characters that they havj not 
faded from remembrance yet. 

Charles paid a visit to Golgotha, but found there a race 
that knew not Joseph. All his old friends had disappeared, 
some through battle, murder, and sudden death ; others 
had recognised the futility of resistance, and sunk down 
into steady, sober citizens. By dint of repeated inquiries he 
found that Francois had settled down as a chemist in bis 
native town, while Jules, whose profession had been knocked 
to pieces by repeated revolutions, had ended by turning 
blood-red, and was now supposed to be luxuriating beneath 
the tropical sun of Cayenne, making magnificent studies 
for pictures — which he could paint when he returned 
home. 

A week of Paris was more than sufficient for Charley 
under these circumstances. He therefore took passage in 
one of Lafitte's interesting conveyances for Strasbourg, and 
after forty-eight hours' jolting, slightly relieved by cold ham 
and a hamper of champagne laid in at Epernay, he reached 
the frontier of Germany; then, quietly walking across the 



280 WILD OATS. 

bridge at Kehl, and meeting no resistance from the police 
authorities, who probably thought he was a harmless 
excursionist come across to drink a bottle of Rhenish, he 
sauntered to the railway station, and was soon en route for 
Giirkenhof. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

THE REVOLUTION. 



It was perfectly correct that Pumpernickel was in a state 01 
revolution ; but the actual facts which led to that consumma- 
tion remain to be told. The various rulers of Germany had 
succeeded in putting down every semblance of liberty — the 
natural reaction of the absurdity of 1848— and hence looked 
with an eye of extreme jealousy on the rag of constitution- 
alism still fluttering in Pumpernickel. They determined to 
crush this rock of offence as speedily as possible, and the 
Grand Ducal representative at the diet was advised that 
Pumpernickel must revert to the status quo, if his serene 
master wished to retain the friendship of the houses reg- 
nant. Any pretext, no matter what, must be employed to 
incite the people to rebellion : the Grand Duke need not be 
alarmed, even if driven from the country : they would restore 
him, and at the same time free him from the arch-demagogues 
who had so long disturbed his rest. 

Now, this Machiavellian policy looked two ways. In the 
first place, the despots were enabled to destroy at one blow 
all the democrats who had assembled in Pumpernickel as a 
last home, and then they could excuse the act to their own 
people, and justify themselves by saying, " See the conse- 
quences of liberty. The Grand Duke foolishly yielded to 
the arrogant demands of his people, and here you have the 
result ; the strong republican spirit has expelled him from his 
throne. Let us thank heaven that we are not as they." Be- 
sides, it gave their troops an excellent occasion for a little 
quiet plunder, and there was quite a spirit of rivalry among 
the powers, until it was decided to which the honourable 
task of reseating the Grand Duke on the throne of his 
fathers should be intrusted. 

These arrangements being satisfactorily carried out, all 
that was left for the Grand Duke was to bring about the 



THE REVOLUTION. 287 

row which would give him a pretext for running. An ex- 
cuse was speedily found. The police received instructions 
to raise the price of a glass of beer half a farthing, and the 
fun immediately commenced. If a German is notoriously 
a patient animal there are limits to that patience. You 
may kick him, spurn, abuse him, lock him up, keep him in 
mental and bodily slavery, make bim the byword of na- 
tions, force him to emigration and worse tyranny across the 
Atlantic — all this he will suffer ; but touch his beer ever so 
slightly, and you rouse the courage of the Teutonic eagle. 
The Pumpernickel Michels were not a bit behind the other 
Michels in this point, and gave vent to their outraged 
feelings in powerful groaning and collecting round the 
palace As the gendarmerie did not interfere, which was 
quite unaccountable, the mob soon grew very bold, and 
began breaking windows. By a natural process they next 
vented their spite on the Countess Tulpenhain, and made 
indications of a wish to break into her house. Gray tells 
us most truly, and in very mellifluous verse, that " a fa- 
vourite has no friends," whether it be the mistress of a 
Grand Duke or the torn cat of an old maid. But the 
Countess being of the people was not disposed to suffer at 
the hands of her brothers; so she appeared in the doorway 
with a brace of pistols, and threatened to shoot the first 
man who crossed the threshold. The mob rather admired 
this proof of pluck, which always tells on a crowd, and 
turned to other quarters of the town. Several police were 
thrashed very heartily, as the obnoxious decree emanated 
from them, and when the dragoons were ordered out to 
quell the disturbance they fraternised as before. It could 
hardly be otherwise ; the beer question was a vital one with 
them, and if a mechanic had cause to grumble at the 
advanced price, this was doubly the case with the soldiers, 
who had the magnificent sum of three farthings to spend 
daily in comforts. 

This was sufficient for the Grand Duke. His carriages 
had been packed in readiness during the past fortnight, and 
at midnight he quitted the halls of his fathers, while the 
residenz was in a perfect state of tranquillity, accompanied 
by the whole of the court. The confusion his evasion 
created was extraordinary; the worthy citizens stared va- 
cantly in each other's faces at the news that their beloved 
prince had departed, but could not possibly account for so 
decided a step. A deputation was sent after him to Munich, 
but was not received; and then, to prevent anarchy and 



288 WILD 0AT3. 

confusion, it was indispensably necessary to establish a 
provisional government. 

You may imagine how His Majesty of Prussia rubbed 
his hands and smiled benignantly over his champagne, 
upon hearing that the good citizens were playing his game 
so effectually. Orders were immediately despatched to the 
King of Bavaria to set his troops in motion, and concentrate 
them on the frontiers of Pumpernickel, in waiting for any 
eventualities. Public opinion, however, bad to be respected 
even by despots, and the troops of the confederation were 
not to interfere until the whole of Germany recognised the 
necessity of putting an end to the republican movement. 

For awhile Giirkenhof presented a pattern of propriety, 
and things went on even more respectably than they had 
prior to the Grand Duke's departure. The citizens re- 
garded it as a point of honour to show that they were not 
to blame in the matter, and the innkeepers, who generally 
liked a revolution, as tending to a vast extra consumption 
of beer, began to despair. Soon, however, matters took a 
different and far from pleasant turn ; the soldiers rebelled 
en masse, and dispersed their officers in every direction. 
Poor devils ! they could hardly be blamed for it, as they 
had ever been treated like brutes. Young Vons thought 
nothing of boxing the ears of veterans who had fought in 
the war of liberation, or in degrading them to the most 
menial duties. The discipline had been maintained by a 
system of terrorism, and no wonder the troops took advan- 
tage of the opportunity to rend their odious fetters. Two or 
three officers who had rendered themselves peculiarly 
obnoxious were shot by a drum-head court-martial, and 
the rest, thinking this warning sufficient, fled very igno- 
miniously in every direction. 

The provisional government was weak, and could not 
resist the pressure from within. Hence it was forced to 
throw open the prison gates, and let loose the political 
prisoners who had been very wisely shut up for their 
extreme opinions. These were mostly republicans by pro- 
fession, and soon gained the upper hand in the councils of 
the nation by flattering the people with socialistic doctrines, 
which they were perfectly aware could never be carried out. 
An agrarian law was introduced, followed by a heavy tax on 
capitalists, and things began to look queer. The King of 
Prussia rubbed his hands more and more. The fruit was 
nearly ripe, and he would take care it should not tumble 
and break to pieces in the fall. 



THE REVOLUTION. 289 

The liberation of tbe tetes montees led to the overthrow of 
the provisional government, and with it the loss of all honest 
advisers. The republic was proclaimed, and the troops of 
the confederation were at liberty to march in and put down 
the rebellion with a strong hand. Still, no extreme measures 
were taken for the present. A proclamation was published 
through the country, warning the people against obstructing 
the troops, and that the blood shed would be upon their 
own heads. But the people had no thought for conse- 
quences: they were rioting in their new-born license, 
and were flattered into the belief that they were in- 
vincible. The whole of the arms-bearing population was 
called out; the ban and arriere-ban were formed; hurried 
drilling was commenced, and the people really believed they 
would be able to repulse a well-disciplined army, thirsting 
for what Sir F. Head calls " booty, beauty, and revenge." 

With the republic an awful system of confiscation and 
extortion was initiated. A swarm of peasants was quar- 
tered in the bouses of the ill-disposed, and, for the sake of 
humanity I am sorry to say, the Jews were scandalously ill- 
treated. The ignorant peasants formed the most exaggerated 
notions of the wealth possessed by the sons of Abraham, 
and got up plundering parties. Disappointed in their 
search for plunder, Moses being a very clever judge of the 
times, and apt to put bis moneys in security so soon as the 
storm-clouds collect, they generally ended by " putting up 
the red cock ; " in other words, setting fire to their houses 
and ricks. In the towns the Jews fared not a whit better. 
They were imprisoned until they paid heavy sums for their 
release, and a Jew was a sure fortune to any republican 
leader who could capture him. No wonder tbe Jews aro 
such stanch friends of monarchy. I must confess they are 
shamefully treated in revolutionary times. Perhaps, how- 
ever, they manage to make up for it afterwards. 

But the greatest curse to which the Grand Duchy was 
exposed by the republic was the army of Poles and refugees 
that flocked in like vultures smelling carrion afar off. These 
gentry immediately seized the chief military commands, on, 
the principle that among the blind a one-eyed man is a king, 
and plundered systematically wherever they had the slightest 
chance. Nothing was too hot or too heavy for them, and 
they displayed a talent decidedly worthy of a better cause. 
For a long time I considered the Poles the cleverest skir- 
mishers and pickers up of unconsidered trifles I had ever 
met witb, but a short while ago I was convinced of my 



290 WILD OATS. 

error. The gentry at Pumpernickel pale before a Turkish 
pacha, one of whom carried off forty-six pianofortes from 
Kertch and shipped them to Stamboul before the sailors had 
found time to play a hornpipe upon them with their boot 
heels. I can assure you that the general notion of Turks 
being solemn, stately swells, whom nothing would induce 
to go beyond a slow walk, is very erroneous when plunder 
is concerned. In such a case they are wonderfully active. 

When Charles arrived at Giirkenhof, that usually so 
pleasant residenz was a thorough city of desolation ; the 
grass was growing on the untended palace square ; the 
principal shops were closed ; and the citizens, with terror at 
their hearts, were parading the streets, dragging their long 
clattering sabres after them, and thus trying to evoke 
a martial spirit. The theatre had been converted into a 
temporary hospital, the palace was occupied by the provi- 
sional government, while the embassies, with the exception 
of the English, were placed at the disposal of the defenders 
of their country. The embassies had fled, with the excep- 
tion of Sir Amyas, who had resolutely shut himself up, and 
defied the brigands. His wife had followed the court, and 
he felt considerably easier in mind as he paced up and 
down the banquet-halls deserted, and wished he had but a 
regiment of foot guards to drive all the scum to the four 
quarters of the winds. A deputation had waited upon him, 
requesting that he would place the English palace at their 
disposal; but he had greeted them with a revolver, and a 
hint that, if they did not retire in five minutes, he should 
treat them as house-breakers. Nothing could be done with 
the impracticable old man ; he took down the arms of the 
embassy with his own hands, and regarded his house as his 
castle. The Germans, having a very profound respect for 
my Lord Palmerston, thought best to leave Sir Amyas at 
peace, and at length began to regard his presence among 
them as a proof of their respectability. 

But Helen, to Charles's great regret, had not behaved 
with the same decision ; the Countess had cowed her usually 
brave temper, and she had followed the fortunes of the 
court. The canards which flew about in every direction 
soon consoled her for this step, for, were they to be believed, 
the most awful proceedings were taking place in Giirkenhof. 
Charles, therefore, reconciled his conscience by writing her 
a very affectionate letter, in which he told her of his being in 
the country, and that he had hoped to meet her. He liberated 
her mind from much anxiety by describing the state of tha 



THE KEVOLUTION. 291 

Grand Duchy to her, and expressing his views ahout the 
threatened resistance to the Bavarians. He saw such symp- 
toms of dissolution and weakness ahout the republicans that 
he felt sure she would be back again within a month. This 
letter, being handed to the Countess, and read by her to the 
Grand Duke, served Charles in good stead at a very awkward 
moment of his life. 

After forming this far from flattering opinion as to the 
stability of the government, Charles proceeded, as in duty 
bound, to head quarters, to satisfy himself as to the con- 
dition of the levies. The Bavarians had by this time fought 
one battle, in which the patriots had been defeated, not 
ingloriously, but they could not withstand the charges of 
the bayonet. If they had possessed any leader of energy 
they might have held the Bavarians in check; but the 
Polish generals were veritable scum. All they cared for 
was plunder and intoxication. The troops were allowed to 
fight as best pleased them, and, so soon as the engagement 
was over, the generals placed themselves at their head 
again, and held fiery addresses in broken German. When 
the actual hard fighting took place some old sergeants of 
artillery assumed the leadership, but their practice was of 
slight service against the theories of polite warfare. As a 
general rule, too, each man preferred fighting on his own. 
account, and if a tree was in the vicinity would ensconce 
himself behind it, and quietly pop at the soldiers. 

The only exception to this mode of skirmishing was to 
he found among the "scythe men," a battalion of hardy 
mountaineers, armed with a fearful weapon. This con- 
sisted of a scythe fastened to the end of a sevon-foot pole, 
and a reaping hook attached to the side of the blade. This 
was a reminiscence of the Polish war in 1830, and served 
to repulse cavalry charges. The scythe received the breasts 
of the horses, the reaping hook tore the rider from his 
saddle, and good-by, dragoon. Unfortunately the efficiency 
of this weapon was not available in the rebellion, for the 
Bavarians employed infantry almost entirely, and their 
close firing very speedily routed the scythe men. 

When Charles came up with the insurgent army he 
found it in full retreat from the Bavarians. The confusion 
was terrible. Everybody who had a due regard for his 
carcass bolted at the first opportunity, and only the young 
ardent republicans were left to hear the brunt of the fight. 
In vain did the Polish leaders fulminate edicts against the 
deserters, and threaten them with unparalleled punishment. 



292 WILD OATS. 

Their own example was so glaring a lesson of cowardice that 
it was not surprising if the tailors and cobblers thought better 
of fighting, andmade their way homewards as best they could. 

At length the great army dwindled down to a few thou- 
sand men, chiefly insurgent soldiers and youths of the first 
levy ; but, although they fought gallantly, they were forced 
to give way step by step before the inexorable march of the 
Bavarians. After two or three attempts to hold some 
villages, from which they were driven with great slaughter, 
they marched through Giirkenhof once more, quickened in 
their movements by the news that a corps d'armee, consist- 
ing ol Nassau and Hessen Darmstadt troops, had entered 
the country m the opposite direction, and threatened to cut 
them off. At the same time a thick military cordon was 
drawn along the frontier, and the insurgents were caught 
like rats in a trap. 

It was a melancholy sight to watch the patriots who had 
quitted Giirkenhof in such spirits marching again through 
the town, with colours trailing, blackened with powder and 
smoke, weary, foot-sore, and heart-sore. The citizens were 
true to themselves in this crisis ; they tried to preserve a 
strict neutrality, and formed into squads to protect the 
town from rapine. The republicans merely laughed at 
them, and eased them of their firelocks, while the pro- 
visional government wisely sought safety in flight, leaving 
the town to the tender mercies of the Bavarians. 

Not long and the soldiers marched in, treating the city 
as captive to the sword and bow. They shot everybody 
they saw in the streets, man, woman, or child, without dis- 
tinction, or spitted them to the shop windows with a 
bayonet.* Poor Sir Amyas was a sad sufferer, for, opening 
his jalousies to cheer the troops and thank them for the 
restoration of order, a clever corporal put a minie ball 
through his shoulder-bone, thinking that he was about to 
attack the troops single-handed. Poor Giirkenhof! Those 
three days of Bavarian occupation taught it a severe lesson 
about the folly of revolution ; and many a citizen's daughter, 
insulted and outraged by the drunken restorers of order, 
wished in their hearts that the republicans were only back 
again to revenge them. 

Charley was in a very awkward position ; he saw no way 

* Lest my readers should imagine I am exaggerating, I will refer 
them to the accounts of the capture of Freyburg im Breisgau in 
1848, when the Hessian troops committed horrors of which my 
account in the text is but a faint reflex. — L. W, 



THE BEVOLTJTJON. 293 

of escape out of this accursed country, and be felt at the 
same time an irresistible loathing for the revolutionists. 
But he was obliged to stay with them ; anything was better 
than falling into the hands of the soldiery, flushed with 
victory, and brutalised by success and plunder; so he 
marched along bravely in the van of the republican army, 
which had dwindled more and more away, until scarcely two 
thousand remained under the black, red, gold banner. 
They had quitted the great high road leading down the 
country through fear of the new corps d'armee, and had 
thus allowed the Bavarians to come up. The march was 
most disorderly ; every man threw away his impedimenta; 
many even laid down their arms, and cursed the leaders 
who had brought them into such a perilous condition. 
The few field guns they had still dragged after them were 
deserted, and, worn out with fatigue, almost reckless with 
despair, they threw themselves into the little walled town 
of Donsberg, determined to fight to the last, and gain that 
death on the battle field which awaited them so certainly if 
they fell into the hands of the Bavarians. If the worst 
eame they would try to cut their way through the enemy, 
and desperate men had before now effected even greater 
hazards than this. 

So soon as the insurgents had entered the town they 
began to put themselves in a posture of defence, by throwing 
up barricades and making loop-holes through which to fire 
on the troops. In happier days the Grand Duke had given 
the Biirgerwehr of Donsberg a battery of four six-pounders, 
with which they satisfied their desire for playing at soldiers. 
These were dragged out of the market-house, two planted 
on either gate of the town, and then loaded with old iron, 
nails, &c, to give the troops a warm reception. 

During the night there was no thought of sleep; the little 
church was stripped of its leaden roof, which was converted 
into bullets, while the insurgents sought to drown dull care 
by breaking into the cellars and dragging out long-hoarded 
casks of Rhenish. Charles went to bed with very gloomy 
anticipations of the morrow, and bitterly repenting that he 
had not followed Runciman's advice. But it was too late; 
be must observe a strict neutrality, and try to pass off as a 
harmless traveller, who had arrived accidentally at Donsberg 
just in the thick of the action. Perhaps that excuse might 
save him ; but with what longing eyes did he survey the 
blue outline of the Black Forest, which seemed to offer him 
a safe retreat if he could only once reach it! 



2M 



WILD OATS. 



As soon as day broke the alarm was sounded through 
the streets, and the boom-boom of a field-piece woke the 
echoes in the mountains. Charles tried to hide himself in 
his bedroom, and hoped to escape the action, but he was 
soon undeceived ; a party of armed men broke in, and in- 
sisted on his coming down and firing on the troops. This 
was certainly a very pleasant predicament for an unoffending 
British citizen, but the gentle prick of a bayonet speedily 
stopped all his protestations, and he soon found himself 
in the streets, an insurrectionist malgre lui. It was not 
very agreeable work I can assure you ; the barricade was 
scarcely four feet high, and the Bavarian guns rightin front 
could almost be seen into, so close were they. Then every 
half minute a ball struek the barricade, either forcing its 
way through, or bounding over with a savage whizz and 
sough most startling to unaccustomed ears. Add to this 
that every now and then a revolutionist fell at Charles's 
feet with his head smashed to atoms, or a minie ball 
making a telescopic passage right through him, and my 
readers can easily understand Charles's feelings. 

At last, however, he grew savage ; the deliberate popping 
of the Bavarians at him roused his blood, and all his reso- 
lutions as to neutrality faded away. He seized a musket 
from a fallen man, along with his cartouche-box, and began 
blazing away as best he could. At length the violent pain 
in his right shoulder warned him to desist, and he found 
time to look round him. What was his delight at recog- 
nising a familiar face at his elbow ! 

"What, Marschner?" he said; "why I thought you 
were safe in London." 

" So I ought to be, Mr. Dashwood," the other replied bit- 
terly ; " but I was a fool, and believed in the possibility of 
the revolution. But we have no time to waste. The place 
will be taken in an hour, and I presume you have no more 
wish than myself to be exposed to the tender mercies of 
the soldateska. If you like to follow me I think I can 
insure your safety. I am a native of Donsberg, and know 
every inch of ground around." 

Charles gladly accepted Marschner's offer, and followed 
him to the church. Here his friend lifted up a large circular 
stone and disclosed a flight of steps. " I hardly thought," he 
said, " when I used to play with the sexton's son, that the 
knowledge of this secret passage would serve me in good stead. 
I have not been along it for years; but it leads to an old extra- 
mural monastery, whence we can reach the mountains." 



THE FLIGHT. 295 

He then lit a hand-lamp, and, carefully drawing the stone 
into its place, they marched along the passage. It seemed 
to be a portion of an old catacomb, for mouldering coffins 
lay piled in side niches, or ghastly skeletons grinned a 
horrible smile at the presence of strangers. But Charles 
was not inclined to stop and institute any archaeological re- 
searches; his great desire was to put as many miles as 
possible between himself and the Bavarians, and he urged 
his comrade to increased speed. 

" Chi va lontano, va sano," was his philosophic reply. 
" It seems te me I have forgotten my way in this con- 
founded labyrinth. Surely it went straight on, and yet — 
ah, yes! I see the roof has fallen in and blocked up the 
passage." 

Charles looked at Marschner and then at the solid wall 
of stone. It was too true, they were blocked in, and there 
did not appear much chance of extrication. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

THE PLIGHT. 



"Well, it's no use standing and looking at the stones," 
said Marschner after a lengthened pause, and whistling non 
piu mesta like a funereal dirge ; " if we go back we shall be 
shot; if we go on we can only be smashed, and I prefer 
that death." 

"But how are we to manage? I don't see what can be 
done except removing these stones, and they seem to have 
lain here for years, and to have grown firmly to each 
other," 

" True, O my friend ! but does it not strike your excel- 
lency that we could dig our way round the obstacle ? We 
shall have to pull down a portion of this earthwork, and 
then perhaps we could creep round. At any rate there is no 
harm in trying." 

" My God! what's that?" Charles suddenly shouted, at 
hearing a most fearful reverberation above his head, and 
fancying the roof was falling in to crush them. 

"Oh, that's nothing! only the troops who have forced 
their way into the town, as I anticipated, and are now 
going to show what may be expected from royal mercy. 



296 WILD OATS. 

Hark ! they are quickly at work — there goes a platoon fire. 
I suppose they are shooting down their prisoners — a much 
safer way of rendering them harmless than putting them 
within four walls. Thank your good star, Mr. Dash wood, 
that you are not one of them." 

" Well, but I do not see what I have gained ; it looks very 
much as if we should be immured here to die a living death : 
sooner than that I would go back and try the pity of the 
soldiery." 

" While there's life there 's hope. Mr. Dashwood; at any 
rate we could not leave this passage till nightfall, for the 
troops will be on the alert, and patrols scattered over the 
country. But you need not fear starvation, just at present at 
least : here is bread, dried fish from the Lake of Constance, 
and a bottle of kirschwasser. I think we can defy the 
enemy for awhile." 

And, thus speaking, Marschner produced these various 
articles from carpet-bag-like pockets, and Charles, yielding to 
inexorable necessity, made a very hearty meal. Then, after 
a cigar, which was necessary to health in this charnel-house 
rstreat, they set to work digging out the loose earth with 
their hands and a bayonet, and, after three hours' incessant 
toil, succeeded in making a hole large enough to creep round 
the obstacle. Then they slowly plodded onwards, guessing 
at the time, and at length they stood in a low archway 
leading directly into the courtyard of the monastery. 

But a sudden " hist" from Marschner caused Charles to 
sink back into the gloom. A picket was stationed in the 
yard, and parties were riding in repeatedly with insurgents, 
whom they carried bound into the interior of the buildings. 
For hours our two friends watched the troops in agonising 
suspense, and at last there seemed to be some cessation to 
the drinking and shouting. A sentry was placed at the 
doorway, and all retired for the night. 

" We must manage to trip up that fellow," said Marsch- 
ner ; " perhaps we may have to kill him; but what matter? 
His hands are red with the blood of my brothers, and such 
a death is far beneath the punishment he ought to suffer." 

" No, no," Charles whispered ; " I cannot save my life at 
the expense of another man's. But see, we shall have no 
difficulty with him ; he is beginning to stagger, and if he 
attack that bottle for another hour with the same ardour 
he displays at present, we can overpower him without 
difficulty." 

The worthy Bavarian, brought up from his mother's 



THE FLIGHT. 297 

breast on the harmless beer of his country, had now reached 
the home of the potent kirschwasser, which soothed his 
injured feelings so well that he never rested till he had 
emptied the bottle. After an insane attempt to keep up- 
right, and persuade himself into the belief that he was all 
right, he gradually collapsed into a corner, and his heavy 
Stertorous breathing soon proved that he was dreaming—* 
mayhap of the blessed season when the bock-bier invigorates 
the exhausted palate of the " Bayerischer Land Soldat." 

The fugitives emerged from their hiding-place, and noise- 
lessly crept past the sentry, Marschner taking up his 
carbine, as it might possibly be useful en route. Within a 
quarter of an hour they were rapidly ascending a moun- 
tain path, which only Marschner's practised eyes could 
detect, so overgrown was it with fern and juniper. At 
length they arrived at a small collection of huts, Marschner 
recommending great caution, as the troops might have 
reached the spot already. They skirted the village, climbing 
over hedges and leaping ditches, until they found them- 
selves in safety, and were resting from their exertions 
when Charles heard a smothered groan from an adjoining 
coppice. 

" Marschner, there is a wounded man close by; let us 
see whether we can afford him any relief." 

They forced their way through the coppice in the direc- 
tion whence the groans proceeded, and at length found an 
officer lying on his back and bleeding terribly. 

"Ah bah!" said Marschner doggedly ; "'tis an enemy; 
let him die — what care we for his life ? " 

" You forget," Charles replied earnestly, " that I was not 
in any way engaged in this cursed revolution ; and I regret, 
for your own sake, that it has produced such \inchristian 
feelings in you. But my course is clear ; I Gaunot allow 
this gentleman to bleed to death, and will try with God's 
help to offer him relief." 

He then stooped down, while Marschner muttered some- 
thing about infernal folly, and applied the spirit-flask to the 
officer's lips. He gradually recovered from his swoon, and 
murmured in a faint voice, " Thanks, thanks ; there are, 
then, some Christians left in this accursed country." Charles 
succeeded in getting him into a sitting posture with his 
back against a fir tree, and examined his wound. It was a 
fearful gash in the thigh, apparently made with a scythe, 
and the bright, clear blood which jetted from it showed 
+ hat some artery had been severed. Charles took his hand- 



293 WILD 0AT3. 

kerchief from his pocket, converted it into an impromptu 
tourniquet, and fastened it securely with a piece of stick. 
The officer gradually recovered and said, — 

" I was thrown from my horse as I was riding with de- 
spatches to General von der Heyden, and when I recovered 
my senses I found my ankle was terribly sprained. I was 
quite unable to move, and sat patiently waiting for as- 
sistance. It came, but had been better away. A party 
of scythe men, flying from Donsberg, came up, and, on my 
asking them to conduct me to the nearest house, one of 
them stabbed me a3 you see. They then dragged me into 
this coppice and left me to die. Such are the bitter fruita 
of revolution." 

" You must remember, sir, that these men had been ex- 
asperated by barbarity, and the conduct of your troops as 
they marched through the country was sufficient to decide 
the insurgents in giving no quarter. But you cannot re- 
main here ; unfortunately I am compelled to fly myself; 
but I will find the time to carry you to an adjacent cottage. 
Come, Marscbner, lend a hand, and we will remove the 
gentleman." 

Marschner obeyed, though with a very ominous scowl, 
and crossing hands they formed a litter, on which they 
bore the wounded officer to the village. They propped him 
up against the door of the priest's house, and, after waking 
the echoes with a series of astounding taps, left him to be 
sheltered. 

"Thank you, my good fellow!" said the officer, gratefully 
squeezing Charles's hand; "you have saved my life, and I 
will not forget you. In any difficulty apply to Captain von 
Hergenhahn, on the general's staff, and I will prove your 
friend. But hark! the tattoo is sounding below ; the pursuit 
will commence very speedily, so I commend you to God, 
for I am powerless to check the infuriated passions of the 
boldiers." 

Charles and Marschner set out again on their travels, 
and did not stop until they reached a charcoal-burner's hut 
in the centre of a dense forest, where they felt sure of safety. 
Indeed, the mention of their being compromised in the late 
revolution was sufficient safeguard for them, and the honest 
•harcoal-burners would have died sooner than betray them. 
Through their widely extended communications, the earliest 
news of the movement of the troops was conveyed to the 
fugitives, and they remained in comparative safety until the 
beat of the pursuit was over. 



THE FLIGHT. 299 

Under different circumstances Charles would have heartily 
enjoyed his present domicile. There was something so 
wild and fascinating about the swarthy charcoal-burners, 
and at night, when the fires blazed up, the scene would have 
won Ketzch's heart. Nor was there any want of provisions ; 
the Grand Ducal forests contained an almost inexhaustible 
supply of roebuck, hares, and bustards, and the charcoal- 
burners had no hesitation about helping themselves. An 
a beverage they had plenty of kirschwasser of their own 
distilling, and a glorious spring of icy cold water bubbled 
up close to their hut. 

Here the fugitives remained some three weeks, till news 
reached them that the troops were gradually closing in, and 
intended to search the forests thoroughly. Their host 
suggested immediate flight, and told them they would be 
safe in the Black Forest at any rate. He would lead them 
over the frontier by paths on which no gendarme had ever 
been seen, and they could thence work their way down to 
republican Switzerland. This was the only feasible scheme 
for escape, as the gendarmes were up in every direction, 
thirsting for the rewards offered for the capture of repub- 
licans, and our friends set out on their travels once more. 
A long walk through the densest forest, a bed on the 
heather, and a breakfast on cold venison, and they had 
reached the Black Forest; but no persuasion would in- 
duce their guide to take a halfpenny for his noble protec- 
tion. "His brother," he said, "was a fugitive from the 
troops, and God forbid that they should pay him for merely 
doing his duty. If ever they came across Hans Michel, and 
he was in want, they might help him; if not, commend ye 
to God!" 

And the honest charcoal-burner, swinging bis clubbed 
stick as if smashing the heads of half a dozen soldiers, 
walked back whistling into the forest, and disappeared 
speedily from sight. 

In the Black Forest the fugitives received an equally 
hearty and generous welcome : wherever they stopped for the 
night a bed was provided for them in a manger, and black 
bread and schnapps offered them. At times they regaled 
on a hearty meal of trout, which is nowhere met with to 
such perfection as in the Black Forest. 

I cannot imagine, by the way, how Mrs. Eatcliffe could 
hit on the unhappy idea of branding the Foret Noir as the 
home of banditti. I have crossed it in every direction, 
spent weeks alone, wandering from one chalet to the other, 



300 WILD OATS. 

and, instead of being robbed, found great difficulty in get- 
ting the peasants to take anything for their hospitality. 
Perhaps this was a little more expensive than living at an 
hotel, for, of course, I was obliged to make presents to the 
children, or give the wife something to buy a ribbon or neck- 
tie when next she went down to market; but the cheapest 
place I ever lived in was the Vorarlberg, where I enjoyed 
the fat of the land during six weeks for the absurd sum of 
four shillings and sixpence. This was probably an ad- 
ventitious circumstance, and came about in this wise. 
The very first peasant's house I stopped at I offered a 
Brabant dollar for change, and the peasant was delighted 
at receiving so valuable a silver coin in a country like 
Austria, where the principal currency is paper. He stowed 
away the dollar to keep company with several others in an 
old stocking, and then gave me a perfect handful of the 
most extraordinary currency in change, composed of Swiss 
batzen, Austrian kreuzer, but, above all, a mass of very 
dirty bits of paper, produced by tearing paper florins into 
infinitesimal parts, owing to the want of small coinage. 
It was perfectly impossible for me to decipher this stuff, so 
I fell into the habit of holding out my hand and letting 
the Vorarlberger help themselves in payment of their bill, 
and such effect had this confidence in their honesty upon 
them, that I thus reached Salzburg at the end of six weeks 
upon four shillings and sixpence. However, the landlord 
there soon convinced me that I had returned once more to 
a civilised country. 

It is another puzzling circumstance how that district 
between Wuitemberg and Baden obtained the name of 
Schwarz-Wald, for, as a general rule, the Black Forest is 
less wooded than any other portion of the country. Here 
and there, it is true, patches of wood may be noticed of a 
deep black hue, but these are only found in certain districts, 
and under well-known conditions. Round the Freyburg 
circle the mountains are covered with every variety of 
foliage; but, after passing through the HSllentbal and 
ascending into " heaven," the true character of the Black 
Forest is presented to you as an undulating table-land, 
barren and unproductive, and intersected by extensive 
valleys, in which the chalets stand. 

The houses have a rather Swiss character, being sur- 
rounded by wooden balconies ; but, I am sorry to say, the 
prevalent dirt is not at all Swiss. The keeping room is 
generally maintained at a fierce heat by a fire continually 



THE FLIGHT. 801 

burning in the huge porcelain stove which occupies one 
Bide — a very necessary precaution I suppose, as the Black 
Forest is frequently covered by dense mists, arising from 
the innumerable rills that flow in every direction, but 
eventually combine to form the majestic Danube. The 
house is always built into a hill side for protection against 
the wind, and the cattle enter the stable by a species of 
drawbridge pulled up at night. The mangers, huge wooden 
cribs, are, by immemorial custom, handed over as sleeping 
berths for visitors ; and there is no fear of your oversleep- 
ing yourself, for the kine eat away your bed. Take it alto- 
gether, a life in the Black Forest is very primitive and very 
pleasant, and so Charles found it. His only annoyance 
were the searching parties, for Baden had also joined in the 
ignoble game of man-hunting ; and at last the chevy grew 
so hot that, for mutual protection, he and Marschner parted, 
after fraternally dividing their money, which had begun to 
run very low. He had heard nothing from the Tricolor 
for some time, and was anxious to return to hi3 duties. 
Marschner cut across country to make the Khine at Lorrach 
if possible, while Charles progressed slowly, via Sch affhausen, 
to the Lake of Constanz. 

Did my limits permit me to describe all his adventures 
they would be found very curious and instructive. Poverty 
made him acquainted with strange bedfellows, in the shape 
of wandering journeymen and refugees, with whom he 
plodded onwards, hopeful of escape, and yet fearing to 
make the trial. At length he succeeded in reaching the 
borders of the lake, and skulked about until he met with a 
fisherman, who consented to set him ashore on the Swiss 
ground for the consideration of nearly all the money he 
had left. But liberty was preferable to cash at that 
moment, and he knew that once in safety he would have no 
difficulty in obtaining friends. 

It was a gloomy night when Charles embarked on board 
the frail bark which represented the passage to safety. The 
wind got up very rapidly, and I can assure you a storm on 
the Bodensee is no joke. The fisherman lost his head, and 
consequently his course, and the heavy current drove them 
in the direction of the Austrian bank of the lake, where the 
found themselves in unpleasant proximity to the white 
coats. It was in vain attempting to escape their surveil- 
lance : a shot was fired across the bows of the fishing boat, 
and a galley pushed off to carry the threat into effect, 
Resistance was useless. The corporal fastened the boat in 



302 WILD OATS. 

tow, and they soon found themselves at the Austrian ad- 
vanced station in the vicinity of Bregenz. 

Charles very soon found that the game was up. His 
signalment tallied so exactly that it was hopeless to at- 
tempt any subterfuge ; so he sought shelter in dogged 
silence until the captain of the guard condescended to lay 
down his pipe and give bim a hearing. This proceeding 
was, however, of a very amicable nature, and Charles drew 
fresh hope from the excellent repast which the captain 
ordered to be set before him. The telegraph was set to 
work to decide how Charles should be disposed of, and 
during the time he was allowed to go about on parole. The 
Austrians saw that he was a gentleman, and relied im- 
plicitly in bis word, and Charles was glad that he was a 
prisoner with them, sooner than be exposed to the tender 
mercies of the Bavarians. 

At length the telegraph replied that Charles must be sent 
up under strict guard to Giirkenhof, and the Austrians 
parted from him with regret, for he had gained upon them 
by his winning ways. On going to the lake side to take 
boat for Constanz, Captain von Witzleben thrust a roll of 
florins into his hand. 

" There, Monsieur : I am sorry my men will be compelled 
to hand you over to the Bavarians on the other side of the 
lake, but that money, judiciously applied, will insure kind 
treatment even from them. I advise you, if you have the 
good fortune to be tried by a military commission, to say 
nothing in your defence — you had better plead guilty, and 
the president will doubtless take your case into favourable 
consideration ; and, if you are condemned to be shot, why 
I feel sure you will face the firing party like a man. Nay, 
you need not try to exculpate yourself to me : I have every 
reason to believe you not guilty ; but unfortunately there 
is a strong case against you, and, if you have any friends 
at court, get them to intercede for you. You may get off 
then with ten years' imprisonment." 

And, with this consolation, the captain gave Charles a 
military salute, and ordered them to start. On reaching 
Constanz the prisoner was handed over to a Bavarian 
guard, despatched expressly to receive the hardened male- 
factor, and, after being handcuffed, he was carried by train 
to Giirkenhof, where gratis lodgings were provided for him 
in the city prison. On comparison Charles would have 
preferred being back in Whitecross Street, but there was no 
help for it; he must put up with the consequences of his 



STANDRECHT. 303 

folly, and, whatever the result might prove, it would serve 
as a very useful hint not to engage in a revolution without 
first reckoning the cost. 

But Charles was soon raised to an extravagant state of 
good spirits hy finding under his soup-bowl a letter from 
his Helen, which the turnkey had thus smuggled in. She 
told him she was moving heaven and earth in bis cause, and 
she felt sure he would be released. The Grand Duke was 
on his side, so was the Countess ; but Sir Amyas was inex- 
orable. Although a word from him officially would save 
him, that word he was determined not to utter, for in his 
eyes attacking a government was an unpardonable sin. 
She, however, intended to make one more appeal to Sir 
Amyas, who was very fretful from a wound he had received 
during the revolution. Perhaps she might succeed in moving 
the stern old man; if not, she had one other resource 
which she thought would be infallible. " Wait and hope " 
were her last Words, and it is wonderful what an exhilarating 
effect they had on Charles. He turned willingly to the in- 
struction of the prison schoolmaster, and soon found him- 
self busily engaged in making cigar-boxes; for the Germans, 
wise in their generation, think that, if they are forced to 
maintain their prisoners, the least they can do in return is 
to work, and repay to some extent the cost. We sneer at 
the Germans, and call them unpractical, and in our wisdom 
allow our prisoners to be a dead weight, spending their super- 
fluous energy in turning an idle tread-wheel, or working at 
the cruel crank. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

STANDEE CHT. 



The Bavarians were certainly exemplifying the truth of the 
vie victis, and the process of trial, condemnation, and death 
was wonderfully short. For a length of time they had gone 
upon the Hibernian system of shooting first and inquiring 
into the guilt afterwards, and the interval which elapsed 
between the last shot of the revolutionists and the tri- 
umphant return of the Grand Duke had been profitably 
employed in ridding him of a vast number of democrats, 



304 WILD OAT3. 

who might have proved troublesome hereafter. The pri- 
soners were taken out to the pelouse behind the palace, 
placed in the front of their yawning grave, short shrift was 
allowed, and a corporal's file shot them down as coolly as if 
they were commemorating the 1st of September. The 
Grand Duke would be able to sniff the mouldering corpses 
of his enemies, and, as we all know, that is a sweet 
revenge. 

But the Grand Duke, on his return, found himself a mere 
puppet. Instead of him, martial law ruled the country in 
the form of the general commanding the Bavarians. He 
was not a bad-hearted man, but suffered from an obliquity 
of mind. In actual warfare he would have thought it 
criminal to give no quarter, but with mere rebels the case 
was very different. A warning example must be instituted, 
and this the worthy soldier imagined could only be effected 
by shooting every prisoner who surrendered. Now, had 
this severity been practised upon the Poles and other pro- 
fessional revolutionists, I do not think I should have a word 
to say against it ; but unfortunately the punishment cut 
two ways: while intimidating the worthy people of Pumper- 
nickel, it drained the country of its marrow. The Poles had 
bolted betimes, save in some rare instances ; but the pri- 
soners were generally strong young peasants and students, 
who had defended the popular cause from a generous though 
very foolish impulse. 

The Grand Duke, too, was not a bad-hearted man — far 
from it. He was only careless, and regarded human life in 
a reckless and truly royal manner. By slow degrees, how- 
ever, the conviction forced itself on his mind that Germany 
was being coerced into good behaviour at the expense of his 
own country, and that perhaps it would be advisable for 
Mm to mete out punishment with his own hand. A case 
in which a perfectly innocent man was shot by mistake 
endued him with unwonted energy, and he protested against 
the Bavarian general's proceedings ; but the instructions he 
had received were totally at variance with the views of the 
Grand Duke, and he would not risk the anger of the great 
rulers through any apprehension of offending a royalet. 
The Grand Duke then behaved in a manner worthy of his 
royal ancestors. He declared that if the butchery (you see 
his blood was up, and he used the right word without any 
diplomatic circumlocution) was continued — he would lay 
down his crown. It should never be enrolled in the pages of 
history that Henry Stanislaus X*ver Ernest XIX., by the 



STANDRECHT. 305 

grace of God, had consented to act disgracefully for the 
sake of pandering to the absolutistic notions of his German 
co-regents. 

It was wonderful what a hubbub this protest created, and 
the immense amount of telegraphing and protocolling that 
went on — to the advantage of the prisoners, for the execu- 
tions were stopped until the knotty point was settled. At 
length, however, mercy prevailed, and the Grand Ducal 
prerogative was preserved intact. The high contending 
parties came to an agreement by virtue of a compromise — 
that great safety-valve in matters of litigation. It was 
settled that the prisoners henceforward should be tried by a 
court-martial ; but the Grand Duke was not to be allowed 
to alter its decision in any way. Having thus salved his 
conscience, the Grand Duke washed his hands of the mat- 
ter, and, though the executions went on as usual, they were 
performed with a semblance of law, and what more could 
the prisoners expect ? 

Charles was beginning to grow uncomfortable at the delay 
in deciding his fate : if he was to be shot they had no right 
to keep him in suspense — anything was better than that. 
But the court-martial went on with admirable speed, thus 
giving a worthy example to the dilatory civilian courts, and 
Germans to their surprise found themselves condemned to 
be shot after scarcely a fortnight's imprisonment. It was 
manifestly unfair. Had they been brought before a criminal 
court the trial would have dragged on its slow length for 
at least a couple of years, and they might have a chance of 
being forgotten. Charles was therefore warned to prepare 
for trial the next week, and awaited with some curiosity, 
not unmixed with apprehension, his first appearance before 
a court-martial. 

The court sat in a ward of the prison, and free admis- 
sion was allowed to the public. Hence, when Charles was 
brought before it, he was greeted with a buzz, partly of 
compassion, partly of defiance. He had not the remotest 
idea what evidence the prosecution would bring against 
him, for he was not aware that prisoners had been reprieved 
for the express purpose of bearing testimony against any 
one the court wished to crush. Three officers performed 
the functions of judge and jury, and evidently regarded the 
matter in a very offhand manner ; for they were joking and 
talking together, which they only interrupted to have a 
fixed and rather impertinent stare at the prisoner, who 
was biouglit into court between two gendarmes after they 



300 WILD OATS. 

had very ostentatiously loaded tbeir muskets before his 
face. 

The trial assumed the form of a cross-examination, in 
which the president performed the functions of counsel, 
and you may be sure took care not to put any question 
which could exculpate the prisoner. It was, in truth, a 
mere farce, like too many other proceedings in this world, 
where law is twisted into the defence of the grossest in- 
justice and illegality. 

" The prisoner is Mr. Charles Dashwood, an ' Englishman 
and revolutionist,' " the president said, turning to his con- 
freres; then to Charles, " I see, by evidence now before me, 
that in your own country you were leagued with the worst 
rebels, and engaged on a firebrand paper called the Tricolor. 
Is that correct ? " 

"I should wish that paper to be put in evidente, to 
prove that it did not represent such feelings " 

" We possess quite sufficient proof. Crier, call M. Her- 
man Kurz." 

And that worthy gentleman, now branded with the mark 
of a common informer, stepped into the witness-box, and 
fluently described all he knew about the Tricolor, with a 
great deal drawn from his own fertile imagining. 

" Do you wish to ask this witness any questions?" said 
the president pro forma. 

" None," was the reply. 

The president was apparently highly delighted at the 
rapid manner the trial was proceeding. " Crier, call Wil- 
helm Lederkirke." 

A witness then stepped into the box, whom Charles 
fancied he had seen before, but where it was impossible 
for him to decide. He, too, tripped off his evidence, that 
he had seen Charles at Donsberg, armed and evidently 
firing on the troops. Suddenly it occurred to Charles that 
this man had been one of those who dragged bim from his 
room to the luckless barricade, and he therefore inquired 
whether he had not been forced into taking part in the re- 
volution. But the witness had been too well tutored, and 
his 11011 mi ricordo was worthy of another celebrated court- 
martial. Charles, clearly seeing the bias, determined on 
not asking another question, but let the trial go on as the 
president pleased. 

Formal proof then being given of the prisoner's capture 
and delivery to the Bavarians, the president asked, in the 
same monotonous matter-of-course tone which had charac- 



STANDRECHT. 307 

terised the whole of the proceedings, " Prisoner, have you 
anything to say in your defence ? " 

Charles had a great deal to say, but knowing the utter 
futility he merely bowed. A paper was handed up to him, 
bearing in pencil, " Call me as witness, Von Hergenhahn." 
Charles, therefore, stated that he had a witness who would 
prove, he thought, the opinion he formed of the affair, and 
Captain von Hergenhahn limped up to the tribune after 
exchanging a sympathising glance with the prisoner. He 
gave his evidence in an impassioned manner, saying that 
be owed his life to Mr. Dashwood, and felt sure that he was 
far from sympathising with the rebels; and, though he 
might possibly have been guilty of extreme folly, any 
criminal idea was far from him. " And I will take this 
opportunity of handing Mr. Dashwood the handkerchief 
with which he stopped the effusion of blood when the 
merciless ruffians had left me to die. Whatever be the 
result of this day's proceedings, I solemnly assert that I 
believe Mr. Dashwood is innocent." 

This earnest appeal had a marked effect upon the 
audience, which they proceeded to express until the pre- 
sident threatened to clear the court. He then turned to 
fais colleagues, merely saying, "You have heard the 
evidence : is the prisoner guilty or not guilty ?" 

Hardly a minute's deliberation and they unanimously 
said, " Guilty ! " 

The president turned briskly to Charles and said, " Mr. 
Dashwood, you have been found guilty, on the very clearest 
evidence, of having borne arms against the Grand Duke. 
As an Englishman you must have been well aware of the 
consequences, and were probably prepared for them. My 
duty is very simple, however : I have to sentence you to 
death. I have taken into due consideration the favour- 
able opinion expressed of you by Count von Hergenhahn, 
which will so far modify the judgment upon you that you 
will enjoy the honorary distinction of being shot, instead of 
hanging, to which as a civilian you were exposed. As a 
further proof of the merciful consideration of the court, I 
will grant you till the day after to-morrow to settle your 
worldly affairs. Jailer, bring up the next prisoner." 

Ugh ! have you ever felt, reader, the sensation of the 
first plunge into the sea on a cold day, the whizzing of 
the water in your ears, and the giddiness produced by the 
sudden shock? Such was Charles's feeling as he heard the 
death sentence passed upon him. To be so suddenly cut 



308 



WILD OATS. 



off in the prime of life for an offence of which he felt him- 
self innocent (for firing at the troops he only regarded aa an 
act of self-defence) was fearful. He was noticed to turn 
deadly pale as the verdict fell upon his ear, and convulsively 
elutched at a glass of water on the bench before him. He, 
however, speedily recovered, and with a bow quitted the 
court to make way for other victims to this unhallowed 
mockery of laws. 

So soon as he was death's own Charles experienced a con- 
siderable difference in his treatment ; nothing was now too 
good for him, and the Germans, in their materialism, 
thought the only way of keeping his pluck up was by good 
feeding and drinking. But Charles, to their surprise, took 
no heed of such things ; he merely asked for pen and ink, 
and calmly set about arranging his worldly affairs in pre- 
paration for the worst, although hope still whispered in his 
ears that Helen would not desert him at this awful moment. 

He was not deceived. So soon as the news of his sentence 
reached the court, Helen did not even waste time in fainting 
(which she would have been quite justified in doing), but 
ran off to Sir Amyas to implore him to intercede for his 
nephew. I am glad to say that the old gentleman was 
considerably moved by her earnest prayers, and, for the 
first time for many years, a feeliDg of pity pervaded 
his breast as he saw the fair girl kneeling at his feet, 
wringing her bands, and pouring forth all her innocent 
oratory in behalf of her beloved Charles. But Sir Amyaa 
was placed in a very awkward position ; it was so utterly 
against his principles even tacitly to give the revolution the 
appearauce of his sanction by interceding for a prisoner, 
and, Brutus-like, he thought he should compromise himself 
by interfering in behalf of his own nephew. Hence he 
was determined not to apply officially, but at last wrote a 
note to the general, in which he urged Helen's prayer. 
This note he insisted on Helen delivering herself, and thus 
she might save her Charles. With a hearty prayer for her 
success, he bade her God speed, and shut himself up in his 
room, refusing to be comforted, and trying to persuade him- 
self that he was doing his duty. It was, in truth, a bitter 
blow to his pride that his nephew should have thus tar- 
nished the unsullied chivalry of his family. For centuries 
the Dashwoods had been celebrated for their fidelity to their 
sovereign. One Dashwood had sold his estates for King 
Charles, another had followed King James into exile, and 
now a recreant Dashwood had sanctioned by his presence 



STANDRECHT. 309 

a revolution against a crowned head ! And yet, strange to 
say, he began to feel a much stronger degree of love for 
Charles, now that he was so nearly losing him, than ever he 
had done before. It gnawed at his heart that with Charle9 
the Dashwoods would, in all probability, die out; for his 
own son — if he were bis own, which he doubted — was sickly 
and very unlikely to live. And the old man, who had spent 
a long and wicked life in scoffing at religion and reading 
Voltaire, now turned to his Bible, and found enduring com- 
fort in the blessed pages of Revelation. 

Helen ran back to the Countess, and beseeched the Grand 
Duke to interfere and save Charles's life for her sake, and 
for that of his own daughter, whom she had saved from 
perhaps worse peril ; but that unlucky etiquette which 
sears the heart and pacifies the conscience interposed in 
this instance. The Grand Duke could not apply to the 
Bavarian general to release a prisoner, for he was on the 
high ropes as regarded him, and would not,, for any con- 
sideration, ahate one jot of his dignity. He, however, 
strongly advised Helen to apply herself, and felt no doubt 
that she would succeed. To effect this he offered her a 
court carriage, which, in his eyes, wa3 a certain means of 
gaining her end. Helen, therefore, had no resource but to 
drive out to camp, and with wild remembrances of Colonel 
Kirk at Taunton coursing through her brain, she set out 
on the mission upon which Charles's life and her own happi- 
ness depended. 

On reaching the camp the cotirt carriage produced the 
desired effect, and she crossed the lines without any oppo- 
sition. She was speedily ushered into the general's hut, 
and found him busily engaged at his writing-table signing 
death warrants, and handing them over to a staff officer. 
However, at the sight of a young lady in tears, he quickly 
ordered the officer to retire, and awaited patiently Helen's 
communication. It is needless for me to dwell upon all 
the arguments she used; the best, I believe, were her tears, 
which no brave man can resist. He raised her at once 
from the ground, and placed her in a chair ; then said, with 
an attempt at severity, in which he lamentably failed, — 

" Pish, pish ! the whole world seems infatuated with 
this Monsieur Dashwood. I have just had my aide-de- 
camp Hergenhahn here, threatening to lay down his com- 
mission unless I release him; but I cannot see any 
reason why I should rescind the judgment of the court. 
It is a very serious matter to interfere with the president, 



310 WILD OATS. 

for I have been in the habit of leaving these matters solely 
in his hands." 

" But Charles — Mr. Dashwood I mean — was not able to 
call any witnesses in his defence. I have here letters he 
wrote to me during the whole progress of the revolution, 
which will prove that he was merely an observer, and took 
no active part in the sad excesses which have ruined this 
fair country." 

And my cautious Helen here handed in the letters with 
certified translations. The general rapidly ran over them, 
and his features grew brighter. He had now an excuse for 
tempering justice with mercy, and was only too glad to avail 
himself of it ; but military reserve must be maintained. 

" Well, young lady," he said, " these documents certainly 
throw a favourable light on Mr. Dashwood's conduct, and I 
am disposed to believe that he acted from folly rather than 
malice. These letters certainly do not agree with the 
character given of him by the police agents, and I had 
every reason for believing that he was here as the recognised 
missionary of the revolutionary party in England. Come, 
I will weigh the matter carefully in my mind, and let you 
know the result. Perhaps I may be inclined to let him off 
for a few years' imprisonment." 

"Oh, sir, be generous! Think of his youth — his inex- 
perience. I am ready to promise that this shall be the last 
time he ever behaves in such a foolish way." 

" Well, well, a young and pretty lady is the best possible 
preventive against a man going astray. But what does Sir 
Amyas say in the matter ? Surely he would interfere in the 
affair, when his own nephew is concerned. His silence is 
an evil augury." 

Helen blushed at her forgetfulness — she had been so 
engaged in her own endeavours to liberate her Charles by 
her eloquence, that she had neglected to give Sir Amyas's 
uote to the general. But this fault she now speedily re- 
paired, and eagerly watched the effect produced by the 
communication. It exceeded her most sanguine expecta- 
tions ; the general brightened up at once, and saying, 
'' Come, my young lady, this is a valuable document — you 
6hall hear from me to-night, and you may be sure the 
news will be good," he led her to her carriage, and, with a 
heart brimful of happiness, Helen returned to court. 

Strange is the human heart ! Sir Amyas had been able to 
effect by two lines what all Helen's artless eloquence had 
failed in doing. His Excellency had offered, in return for 



STANDRECJtT. 311 

Charles's liberation, to procure the general the Grand Cross 
of the Pommeranze, which he was quite certain the Grand 
Duke would not refuse to his long friendship. 

This turned the scale : another cross on his brocliette 
subverted all the general's platitudes about justice, and the 
necessity of instituting a terrible example. Surely the 
multitude of dead men, shrieking to heaven for justice on 
their oppressors, had sufficiently vindicated the majesty of 
the law. By six o'clock Helen held in her hands a full dis- 
charge for Charles, accompanied by a note from the general, 
in which he expressed his gratification at being able to meet 
her wishes, and a hint that perhaps she would like to bear 
the result herself to Mr. Dashwood. From that moment 
Helen was a confirmed royalist, and thought the Bavarians 
the very best troops in the world. 

To use a favourite expression of the penny-a-liners, we 
will " drop a veil " over the affecting meeting between the 
lovers. No effort on my part could come up to the ex- 
quisite glow of happiness Helen felt at her Charles being 
saved; and the young man, though fully grateful to her for 
her exertions on his behalf, took it so much as a matter of 
course, that my readers would only be disgusted if I 
described the scene. Imagine these transports over, and 
the gloomy cell illumined, as if by the midday sun, upon 
Helen's flashing in; imagine the turnkey scowling at the 
loss of a prisoner, and yet half glad that Charles was spared ; 
imagine Helen giving vent to showers of tears, and then 
blaming herself for her folly, and after that we will proceed 
to the common sense portion of the interview. 

" Well, Helen," said Charles, seating her on his knee, 
and playing with her long tresses, " there can be no objec- 
tion on your part to marry me at once. Let us go to 
England ; I have a comfortable income, and we can live 
respectably." 

Helen shook her head sadly. " I have told you so often 
in my letters, dearest Charles, that I never can be your 
wife until all doubts are cleared up as to my birth. I am 
convinced, it is true, that Julie's story is correct — she could 
have no interest in deceiving me ; but it shall never be said 
that Helen Mowbray took advantage of your gratitude for 
a slight service she has done you, and which you so kindly 
exaggerate, to trap you into a marriage which would only 
bring disgrace on you." 

Most ingenious were the arguments which Charles made 
use of to induce Helen to rescind her judgment; but she 



312 WILD OATS. 

stood firm in the consciousness of her rectitude. At length 
Charles declared — with a violent oath, I am sorry to say — 
that he would never rest until he had found the soi-disant 
Count, and torn the papers from him. 

" And if I succeed, Nelly dearest," he added, giving her 
a sly squeeze and a demonstrative hug, " I suppose then 
you will not ohject to be my wife?" 

" Why should I attempt any affectation ? You know, 
dearest, that my life happiness is bound up in yours; and 
it has cost me a violent struggle to keep on the right path. 
Wait and hope' must still be our motto. But you will 
have a difficult search. When I last heard from Julie she 
was going to Turkey after the villain, and she has never 
written since. Fortunately I have nearly .£200 saved, 
without counting Mr. Worthington's present, and how 
could it be better employed than in insuring my happiness, 
and yours, I hope, as well ? " 

Charles soon after quitted the prison, and took up his 
quarters at the best hotel until he could leave the country, 
which, under the circumstances, was very desirable. He 
had hardly entered his room when his old friend Pelham 
came in, the bearer of a quantity of letters from England, 
and made him a proposition which wonderfully assisted him 
in his search after the Count. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

DOWN THE DANUBE. 



" Well, my boy," said Mr. Pelham affably, as he held out 
bis hand to Charles, " rather a narrow squeak of it, eh ? 
You have had a sharp lesson about playing with edged tools, 
and I don't think you'll go fighting again about matters that 
do not concern you one jot. You see what comes of associa- 
ting with democrats — a set of infernal cads, who never had 
a father, and seem spawned from republican books. But 
now I have an offer which I think will suit you. Of course 
you'll cut and run as soon as possible, and I can put you in 
the way of combining the utile with the dulce. Spraggs, 
the queen's messenger, has broken down here with import- 
ant despatches for Sir Stratford : they must be sent on at 
once. What do you say, my boy, about taking his place? " 



DOWN THE DANUBE. 313 

" By Jove, Pelham, you have offered me the very thing I 
wanted. Business calls me to Turkey, and I gladly «ccept 
your offer." 

" Well, I don't think you'll come to grief in that country. 
But remember, don't try your revolutionary experiences on 
there — the Turks have a sad knack of bowstringing trouble- 
some people, and you won't have anybody to intercede for 
you if you play any tricks. Come, here 's .£50 for you ; dra 
at Stamboul another £60, and come back here as soon 
your mission is over ; but there is no hurry — you can atten 
to your own business, of course, before government's. Bu 
I will leave you now to read your letters, and come back in a. 
couple of hours to give you the letter-bag. Ta-ta." 

And the ingenuous youth walked off to represent diplo- 
matic England at a milliner's, while Charles began making 
up the long arrears of bis correspondence. As usual, it was 
of a chequered description ; but the most important news 
to us is that the Tricolor had gone to the dogs, and there 
was small prospect of Charley's back salary being paid. 
There was, too, a letter from Runciman, caustic as usual, 
and full of scandal about his fellow authors : he stated, how- 
ever, that he had strong hopes of securing a government 
appointment before long, and, if so, he could probably make 
satisfactory arrangements for Charles. He was very myste- 
rious, of course ; but there was a gleam of selfish good-nature 
expressed in his wish that Charles would save his neck, and 
return in safety to his mourning De Tbou. The other letter* 
were principally from tailors and bootmakers, who will find 
us out wherever we go, and have always a large bill to 
make up, for which our little account would be acceptable. 
These, of course, were torn up; but Mr. Worthington'a 
letter from Australia was laid by for careful consideration 
hereafter. 

Charley took a hurried farewell from Helen in the palace 
gardens, and, after great persuasion, was induced to accept 
.£100 to aid in the prosecution of the search, which, as Helen 
justly said, was a joint-stock business; and, with repeated 
promises to return to Giirkenhof at once, so soon as the 
Count had been found, and to be a good boy, and take care 
of himself, the young gentleman proceeded to dine with 
Pelham, nor did his appetite appear to have suffered by the 
parting. The next morning be was off by the first train to 
Frankfort, heartily glad to notice the prison tower rapidly 
receding from view. 

Helen in the meanwhile received a sudden summons fo 



314 WILD OATS. 

Paris, wbich she was obliged to obey, although that city 
was so full of bitter reminiscences. The Princess had 
carried her views of woman's rights a little too far, and had 
ended by rousing the tiger in her husband. The clouds 
had gathered on the horizon very rapidly, and perhaps the 
lady's conduct was not altogether quite correct. At any 
rate Prince Rubelskoff was so annoyed with her, that he 
dared to strike her during a violent dispute, iti which she 
insisted on riding in the Bois with the Vicomte de la 
Blague, and her husband opposed it. But the blow very 
nearly cost him dearly; for the Princess drew a dagger 
upon him, and evinced herself such a spitfire, that the 
Prince was glad to consent to a separation. The Princess 
received a magnificent allowance, and felt happier than she 
had done for years : all she waDted was Helen, and she 
must come. The Grand Duke joining in her prayers, and 
hoping that Helen's presence would prevent any esclandre, 
which was only too much to be apprehended from such a 
strong-minded young woman, Helen started for Paris, and 
was soon enjoying, in spite of herself, all the delights of 
that frivolous city. 

From Frankfort Charles booked himself direct to Pesth, 
in order to catch the steamer, and the sixty hours' confine- 
ment he endured in the train fully accounted to him for 
Captain Spraggs' illness. I think no torture can be con- 
ceived equal to a long unbroken railway journey on the 
continent. You are fated apparently to perish by the worst 
form of anhypnia, for no sooner are your eyes closed to 
snatch a very welcome but most uncertain sleep, than some 
brutal gendarme tear9 open the door, and insists on seeing 
your reise legitimation, his euphemistic periphrasis for a 
passport. With Charles the Austrians were more than 
usually severe, for it was peculiarly galling to them to have 
his signalment entered in their pocket-books, and yet be 
prevented laying hands on him by the omnipotent am- 
bassadorial seal at Gurkenhof, not to mention the despatch- 
box, with its mystic 0. H. M. S. in gold letters on, the lid. 
However, his wretched journey came to an end at last like 
other miseries, and a night's rest at the excellent Hotel 
d'Angleterre on the quay at Pesth restored him to a healthy 
condition. 

Of course his evening was devoted to visiting that won- 
drous result of engineering skill, the suspension -bridge, 
which was put to so rude a trial during the Hungarian re- 
volution, by being crossed by three armies in succession 



DOWN THE DANUBE. 315 

during one day. For the honour of old England I am 
proud that it so nobly stood the test It is certainly a very 
magnificent object as it spans the broad Danube, and to 
those of my readers who have not seen it I cannot describe 
it better than by advising them to imagine Hammersmith 
bridge, which everybody has seen, at thrice its present size 
and dimensions. The bridge bad been torn up by the 
rebels, and had not been repaired on Charles's visit. Hence 
he could not go over to Buda, and have a nearer glance at 
the spot where the Hungarians had displayed so muck 
bravery ; so he went back to his hotel, and consoled him- 
self for his loss by a bottle of very excellent Tokayer. 

The next morning he was on board the Imperial Boyal 
Steamboat, hastening at full speed down the river. The 
scenery eoon after leaving Pesth became fearfully unin- 
teresting, consisting of interminable plains on either side 
the river, only enlivened rarely by a horseman galloping 
after the herds, and startling the echoes with his wild yells. 
But the scene on board the steamer was well worthy of 
observation ; and on no other line of steamers is such a 
motley group of company congregated. Austrian officers, 
Jews, Moldavians, Servians, Hungarians, merchants, chap- 
men — all made a strange mass, united in one common 
sentiment of feeding, for which ample opportunity was 
offered on board. 

And here Charles bad his first chance of being on familiar 
terms with live princesses, who crowded the boat, and be- 
haved with an affability not common with personages of 
that exalted rank. It ia true that Charles had some diffi- 
culty in following their remarks, for they spoke execrable 
French, but made up for that defect by laughing most immo- 
derately at their own fun. Altogether they were very free 
and jocose young ladies, and Charles was almost guilty of 
the high treason of imagining that he had met some of 
them before in the purlieus of the Haymarket. It struck 
him that they might have paid a little more attention to 
their persons without detriment, and their dirty faces and 
hands furnished a curious contrast to their massive jewellery 
and magnificent velvet and satin dresses ; but he was of a 
charitable turn of mind, and the difficulty he found in 
procuring water on board the vessel for the purposes of 
ablution reconciled him to this inattention on their part. 
Still there was no excuse for the highly improper quipro- 
quos with which they garnished their conversation; still 
less for Charles, who had so lately parted from Helen, when 



316 WILD OATS. 

he laughed at them ; hut they could not talk about any- 
thing else, poor creatures ! Their education had been sadly 
neglected. Paris was the capital of the world in their idea, 
and Bucharest the next city. They had heard of such a 
place as London, but they believed it was only fit for the 
canaille. A little French varnish rubbed over native 
coarseness and immorality — suchis the principal distinction 
of a Moldavian princess. But they are princesses, and to 
such much must be forgiveD . 

In conversing with a Hungarian officer Charles gained 
some interesting information about these " unclean brutes," 
as the stranger ungallautly termed them. It appeared that 
when at home they lived in filthy huts, into which we 
should be disinclined to thrust a dog, and their only 
occupation was running into debt as far as they could get 
credit ; they pigged at home for nine months in the year, 
and the other three were spent in a trip to Vienna or Pesth, 
where they made up for home discomforts. As for their 
morality I may as well describe it in the officer's own words, 
"Every husband has another wife, every wife another 
husband." On hearing this character Charles thought it 
advisable to cease his investigations, but made up for it by 
a very vigorous flirtation with the prettiest of the princesses, 
thereby raising an intense scowl on the face of a fat Servian 
major, who found himself thus unexpectedly cut out. His 
silver epaulettes stood no chance against Charles's hand- 
some clean face. Indeed, the whiteness of his skin created 
a sensation almost equal to that which Bayle St. John 
declares the sight of his did on Wardy {vide his "Two 
Years in a Libyan Family"). 

But the princesses were sadly neglected as soon as the 
steamer commenced winding through that magnificent 
scenery which begins some six hours before reaching 
Orsova. The young ladies could not at all understand what 
possessed the English Adonis, that he suddenly turned from 
their amply developed charms to gaze with such rapt 
«ttention on the every-day face of nature. How could the 
sight of brown masses of rock and trees afford any gratifi- 
cation when they were sitting by? Truly the English 
were outer barbarians, and the Servian major recovered 
his good spirits in proportion as Charles relaxed in his 
attentions. 

In truth, that small piece of water, only too short in its 
duration, contains the most exquisite river scenery to be 
found in Europe. The startling change from flat, level 



DOWN THE DANUBE. 3LT 

putztcts to towering masses of rock, which threaten to bar 
the passage, is like the change of decorations in a fairy 
piece, and you watch with eager eye the traces of that great 
nation which planted the first footstep of civilisation on 
the banks of the Danube. It will repay the monotonous 
voyage from Pesth, I can assure you, and any routine 
traveller desirous of a new sensation should run down as 
far as Orsova if he wants to see European nature in one 
of her grandest and boldest scenes. Beyond Orsova the 
only spot worth notice is the Iron Gate with Trajan's 
Bridge, and that only on account of its reputation. I have 
been over much more dangerous places in an Oxford 
" funny ; " but the Germans make an intense pother about 
it, and even the Moldavian princesses grew silent, and 
turned, if possible, a little more yellow, until the danger 
was safely left behind. 

The greatest annoyance of these imperial steamers is the 
shameful want of sleeping accommodation. While the saloon 
is magnificent in the extreme, gaily decorated with looking- 
glasses and papier-mache pictures — while the living is very 
decent and plentiful, the sleeping berths are a standing 
disgrace to the Austrians. The ladies' cabin is directly 
opposite the gentlemen's, and, owing to the crowd always 
congregated, the doors are left open, allowing an uninter- 
rupted view of both, highly suggestive of morality. But 
the ladies of the Principalities prefer lying in bed as a rule, 
smoking cigarettes and drinking nips of rum : they get up 
to the public meals from compulsion, but return to their 
beds immediately they are over, and indulge altogether in 
practices which would make a pure-minded Englishwoman 
stare, I rather .fancy. 

Charles, however, was not fated to have his modesty 
exposed to such a trying ordeal, or I am afraid he would 
have never reached Stamboul, but have run off after some 
fair princess to Jassy or Bucharest; perhaps, though, it 
might have cured him entirely. However, as a queen's 
messenger he was entitled to a separate cabin on tha 
middle deck, and was thus saved from temptation. 

After passing Orsova there is nothing to see except 
watching the Wallachian guard turn out to salute the 
Austrian flag, which is certainly a funny sight. The cor- 
don houses are generally occupied by three men and a 
boy, under a corporal, who turn out with sticks to present 
arms, for only one musket is allowed to each guard, and 
the frantic attempts of the unhappy non. comm. to dress 



318 WILD OATS. 

his men, in which he always failed, were highly diverting. 
At last the steamer reached Galatz, and the passengers 
going further were transferred to a small sea-going steamer 
belonging to the Austrian Lloyd, and a perfect picture of 
wretchedness, uncleanliness, and discomfort. 

The principal food supplied on board these vessels is 
caviare, washed down with mastic, to me the two most 
horrible things in existence : the cookery is a melange of 
Italian and Turkish, and I think I need say no more against 
it. Nothing in the shape of scenery compensates for the 
food : you pass plenty of Bulgarian villages, growing more 
dirty and wretched the nearer you approach Turkey, and 
the company on board is generally more mixed, if possible, 
than on board the river steamer. Charles had hardly ever 
passed a more wretched time, and the sight of the Sulina 
Passage made him feel quite despondent. The multitude 
of wrecks, almost choking up the passage, were a striking 
proof of Russian selfishness, and he could not understand 
how England could suffer so magnificent a water communi- 
cation to become practically useless. At present we are 
supposed to be changing all this, but I doubt greatly whether 
a commission will ever be able to conquer the Austrian vis 
inertia. What does she care whether Bulgaria becomes the 
granary of the world? She can gain nothing by it, and her 
monopoly of the river will be assailed. The treatment of 
the French steamer Le Lyonnais last summer is, I think, 
sufficient evidence of the honest intentions of Austria in the 
matter. 

At length the steamer cleared its tortuous way into the 
Black Sea, and had a quick and pleasant passage to Varna, 
a place which Charles little thought would become so soon 
the graveyard of the British army. At that time it was a 
n armless-looking, very dirty town : it had been fortified onoe 
upon a time, but now the guns were honeycombed, and 
resting on broken carriages, and the whole place was a 
picture of abject decay — a fine moral type of the Ottoman 
empire, shining as much as whitewash could make it exter- 
nally — within festering corruption and rottenness. The 
Euxine behaved on this occasion in a manner worthy of its 
name : the most timid passengers had no excuse for being 
sick, and on the third morning the good ship Bratwurst 
steamed majestically through the castles of Europe and 
Asia, and the magnificent Bosphorus lay expanded before 
our traveller's astonished gaze. 

I can well understand people describing their impressions 



DOWN THE DANUBE. 819 

da voyage on passing through the Bosphorus, and that no 
traveller can neglect the opportunity for hyperbole ; iudeed, 
the Bosphorus must draw out the latent poesy in a fellow, 
even if it lie buried full fathom five. At the sight of such a 
magnificent passage leading to Stamboul the traveller is 
unconsciously affected by a sympathy for the Turks . he 
cannot believe the stories told of them, or that brutality and 
vice can lurk in such a lovely spot. He should remember 
that even in Paradise the serpent was able to display its 
devilry. What a pity that such a country should be still in 
the hands of a nation which is a standing insult to Europe, 
and which, having once asserted its position by brute force, 
is now regarded as a political necessity ! 

But none of these considerations disturbed Charles as 
the Bratwurst speeded down the Bosphorus, impelled by 
the powerful current. At that time the Turks were very 
much down in the market, and no one anticipated the 
factitious importance they would acquire so soon. English 
publishers civilly declined voyages and travels in that over- 
visited land, probably because every traveller adhered to 
the same beaten track, and had the same fabulous story to 
tell about his secret visit to the seraglio or the Mosque of 
Aya Sofia. The same amount of intrigue was going on at 
the embassies. England, France, Austria, or Russia, by 
turns reached the top of the ladder, and believed in the 
omnipotence of their influence until a rude fall undeceived 
them. The Turks were as lavish as ever of promises 
which they never intended to fulfil, but received with both 
hands the bribes offered them, allowing no feeling of honour 
to interfere with their own profit. 

The view of Pera from the Golden Horn is a fitting lesson 
of the probable fate of Constantinople. In the centre towers 
the huge Russian embassy, suggestive of the dominion that 
nation is ever striving to obtain, and of its power. The 
huge stone building dominating the view is an emblem of 
the colossal nation, lavish of expense when any purpose is 
to be served, and striving by barbaric pomp to impose on 
the Oriental nations. But in the midst of all the burly 
and brattle Sir Stratford Canning moved serenely onwards 
in his honesty of purpose, inflexibly keeping one object in 
view, the maintenance of the dignity and greatness of 
England. The Russians might display their magnificence, 
and point meaningly to Sebastopol in support of their 
usurped authority; but they smarted at the thought that 
all their guns and troops could not overthrow that simple 



320 WILD OATS. 

old mail, who foiled their most finely spun intrigues, and 
broke through the tangled web with the sturdy inde- 
pendence of a British gentleman. No wonder that Sir 
Stratford was so detested ; no wonder that the continental 
press teemed with anecdotes of his haughty demeanour and 
tendency to quarrel; the right man was in the right place 
for once, and, thank God! our ministers recognised his 
value, and could not be induced to recall him ; and so Sir 
Stratford went on his way, seeing the venom accumulate 
around him, but careless of personal danger and difficulty, 
in the conscious pride that he was defending the dignity of 
his country, and maintaining his own independence at the 
same time. 

Still I do not wish to assert that Lord Stratford is the 
pleasantest man in the world with whom to do business. 
1 have known many officers, brave as their sword, who 
would sooner lead a forlorn hope than endure a quarter of 
an hour's interview with the envoy. There is something 
fearfully repelling about him, and I can well understand 
the story that the Sultan behaves like an overgrown girl, by 
crying for three hours, after a private conference with his 
Excellency. His temper is iniquitous, I will allow, and his 
pride is somewhat greater than that of Lucifer; but at the 
same time he is a great man, and I cannot be surprised 
that he should he imbued with a knowledge of his great- 
ness. If Sir Stratford lived in a wooden hut in the worst 
part of Galata, the Turks would regard it with greater awe 
than the magnificent stone palace of the Russian. 

The anchor had scarcely dropped ere Charley chartered 
a kaik, and, merely saying " Galata-da," lay down at his 
ease in the stern, speculating as to the possibility of reach- 
ing dry land without a ducking. But the crafty kaikji had 
scarcely pulled ten yards from the vessel ere he made some 
very significant motions as to payment. Charles simply 
told him to go on, and he would pay him on landing. The 
boatman shook his head in the affirmative apparently, yet 
did not move from the spot. His cry was for paras, and 
Charles was not inclined to give in. Seeing, however, that 
the kaikji was stationary, my hero very quietly pulled out 
a cigar and smoked with the greatest deliberation. The 
boatman was puzzled, and began a long harangue, of which 
Charles understood nothing but "paras." At length he 
produced an Austrian zwanziger, which he showed the 
boatman. " Yoh, yok," the kaikji began ; " iki, iki, on 
mrusch," a™? *estJ9ulated violently with his fingers to show 



CONSTANTINOPLE. 321 

how much he wanted. It was an exorbitant charge, for a 
Turk only pays a piastre to be pulled from Stamboul to 
Scutari ; but Charles, wearied of the discussion, laid the 
money in the boat before him, and repeated " Galata-da." The 
boatman clutched at the money; but a sharp rap on the 
knuckles reproved him, and effected a wonderful change. 
He became as civil as possible, and rowed away to Galata, 
where our hero landed on a rotten quay, covered with mud 
and artful holes, in which infidels could break their necks. 
The stench, too, was terrific, and Charles with a heavy 
heart entered that whited sepulchre which romancers call 
the fairest of European cities. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

CONSTANTINOPLE. 



The first thing Charles had to do on lauding was to deliver 
his despatches, and for that purpose he selected one of the 
countless tribe of interpreters who flocked round him to 
show him the way to the Embassy. The walk along 
Galata to Tophaneh, and thence to Pera, was well adapted 
to sicken him of Constantinople ; and even if he at time* 
strove to divert his attention from the filth and stench by 
observing the strange scenes going on all around him, he 
was soon warned by the grunting of the hammals, as they 
bore heavy casks along, or by the creaking of the boards 
fastened on the backs of the horses, that he must provide 
for his own safety. A Turk is the most obstinate animal 
in the world, and would not get out of the way of an 
emperor ; and as for fancying you could gain your object 
by behaving with civility to them, you might as well at- 
tempt the Irish operation of " whistling jigs to a mile- 
stone." 

And yet to the observer there is something remarka!." 
picturesque in a walk along Galata. It is only a pity that 
the picturesque and the dirty will always be coupled *~ 
gether. But if you can shut your nose to the stench, ant. 
your ears to the smothered "Jawurs" that assail you, an 
hour may be very profitably spent in the High Street of 
Galata, along to Tophaneh. It is decidedly the busiest 
part of the Frankish side of the city, and is the spot where 

y 



322 WILD OATS. 

the European captains most do congregate, as a fine prey 
for the rascally Greeks and Maltese, who lay watch to 
plunder them, or stab them remorselessly if they are so 
foolish as to resist. But Jack Tar is true to himself in every 
clime : he must pay a lengthened visit to the grog-shop, 
and drink his skinful of rakih ; and, though almost 
certain of meeting death on the road, insists on returning 
to his ship at midnight. There are no lamps, owing to the 
opinion of the police that if the streets were lighted the 
thieves would notice them come up, and get out of the way; 
and, as a general rule, the Turks love darkness, for they 
are the sons of night. 

In the daytime, however, Galata is tolerably safe, so long 
as you do not diverge from the main route, or are not 
tempted to enter the drinking-bouses, where the Dalilahs are 
lying in wait to shear the English Samsons, and the 
streets certainly present a very picturesque aspect. No- 
thing is more convincing of the backwardness of the Turks 
as regards civilisation than the good understanding that 
exists among the tradesmen. You find a whole street of 
coffee-shops — then another of pipe-makers — a third stuffed 
with clothes-sellers — all patiently sitting at the receipt of 
custom, without evincing any desire to cut their rivals' 
throats. If you want any article you go up to a shop and 
begin chaffering ; the other tradesmen merely mutter " In- 
ehallah" or " Baccalum," and set to work at their rosaries 
and pipes with the most perfect indifference as to pushing 
their trade. 

Charles plodded his way through the pools of mud and 
garbage till his guide reacjhed the market-place of Top- 
haneh, and then progress seemed impossible. The noise 
was deafening as the Turks cheapened vegetables, and 
walked off with a grin of exultation, bearing a huge pump- 
in or vegetable marrow, the staple of their frugal meal. 
3ut it was remarkable what good temper they all displayed, 
and although you might imagine, at the first glance, that 
they must come to blows immediately, for there appeared 
no other outlet for their passion, the Turks were perfectly 
harmless, and, so soon as business was satisfactorily ar- 
ranged, drowned all animosity in a glass of iced water or a 
mouthful of halwas, at which they took fraternal bites in 
turn. At last Charles succeeded in emerging from the 
mob, laughing heartily at the flowery expressions which 
had been buried at his head, and fortunately not under- 
standing them. In truth, how can you be angry with a 



CONSTANTINOPLE. 323 

Turk, even if he express a wish that a little dog may defile 
your father or mother's grave, when he utters the impre- 
cation with such an exquisitely smiling face, and probably 
fancies that he is paying you a high compliment by noticing 
an infidel at all ? 

It was a heart-breaking pull up Tophaneh Hill, and Charles 
looked with an envious eye on the white umbrellas that 
passed him, or tried to peer through the gauze veils which 
hid the women's features from his inspection. But they 
seemed not at all alarmed at the handsome young Frank, 
and I daresay would have gladly listened to his compli- 
ments, had they dared to stop. But every Turk regards 
himself in the light of a moral policeman as far as women 
are concerned, and if he saw a female daring to exchange 
glances with a Giaour would immediately give her a good 
thrashing ; so the women are forced to be virtuous, and 
shuffle along in their clumsy yellow boots without daring 
to cast a longing, lingering look behind. 

At last Misseri's Hotel was reached, and Charles had the 
distinguished honour of becoming the guest of Mr. King- 
lake's interpreter at a price which would make even the 
Clarendon blush. Without exception this is the worst hotel 
in the world. There is an affectation of English habits, 
and even bells are put up, which you have the privilege 
of ringing all day, if you like, for exercise, but no one ever 
thinks proper to answer. If you by accident catch a 
waiter in the passage he will reply, "Subito, Signor," and 
carefully avoids the vicinity of your room for the rest of 
the day. But I think I can give my readers the best 
notion of a Perote hotel by stating that when Mr. Horsely 
Robinson, the commissioner of the Euphrates Valley line 
was dying at Misseri's, his wife could not even get a cup of 
beef tea made for him, or the slightest assistance in her 
arduous watching. It must be remembered that this took 
place after the war, and when Misseri must have made 
thousands of pounds by the British officers, and, as his 
wife is an Englishwoman, there was no excuse for such 
brutality. Misseri would not break through the rules he 
lad laid down; he would not give them a private room; 
they must live at the table d'hote. Although any amount 
of money was offered for the accommodation it was refused, 
and Mr. Robinson, though suffering severely from bron- 
chitis, was compelled to be removed to the Hotel Bellevue, 
where he died. 

Young men, however, pay but slight attention to these 



324 WILD OATS. 

trifles, so Charles indulged in a bottle of bitter beer (for 
which he was charged, by the way, three and sixpence 
in his bill), and then made himself presentable to pro- 
ceed to the embassy. Everybody being down at The- 
rapia, where Sir Stratford was growling over an exaggerated 
fit of gout, and making himself worse by thinking that 
matters were going wrong at court through his inability to 
attend to business, Charles handed over his despatch-bag to 
a magnificent creature in crimson cloth coat and continua- 
tions, and became a gentleman at large, at full liberty to 
enjoy all the gratification which Stamboul could offer a 
stranger. 

Somehow he found it rather dull in Pera, and, after 
eating some dozen ices at Droyschmann's, it was impossible 
to have recourse to that expedient any longer. Besides, he 
was troubled by thoughts as to how he should set to work 
in his search for the Count, as, having no one to assist 
him, it would prove a difficult matter to detect him in the 
filthy purlieus of Galata, where criminals always con- 
gregate. Chance, however, threw a valuable assistant in 
his way in a very simple manner, and in the shape of a 
Hanoverian gentleman, whom he had known slightly 
during the existence of the Tricolor. Although he had 
mounted the fez, and looked to all intents and purposes a 
Turk, his stomach had remained very Christian, and he 
regularly dined at Misseri's. He had an appointment as 
colonel in the Polytechnic School, and drew a fine income 
for doing nothing, as is generally the case with renegades. 
In fact they can do no otherwise : if they set to work 
honestly the Turks regard them with suspicion, and fancy 
they are trying to cheat; so for the sake of peace and 
quietness they generally degenerate into faineants, and thus 
gain the esteem of the government. 

Charles was delighted at seeing a familiar face, and soon 
told Colonel Hippmann what object he had in coming to 
Constantinople. The Colonel listened attentively, and said 
it would be a very difficult matter to track a convict in 
Stamboul ; at any rate, they would be obliged to take the 
matter in their own hands ; they could expect no assistance 
from the khavasses, who did not care to interfere in matters 
between Europeans. 

" Even if we catch this fellow," said the Colonel, " I fear 
we can do nothing with him but offer a compromise. There 
is no power here which can force him into giving up the 
papers you require, and, though he may have murdered 



CONSTANTINOPLE. 825' 

twenty people, so long as he has money no one will think 
him the worse here. We shall have to act with caution ; 
but the first thing is to find him. If you like I will lend 
you a revolver, and we will begin our search this night 
through Galata. But first we can visit the Jar din des 
Fleurs; it is possible he may go there, and you can point him 
out to me. When I once know him I will put some fellows 
on his track, and if we can find out that he has been engaged 
in any villany here we may trap him." 

The Jardin des Fleurs is probably called so on the lucus 
a non principle. It is a dusty, sandy yard, with benches 
round it, and the only flowers visible are those in the 
bonnets of the Perote fashionable world. A wretched banc, 
plays in a kiosk in the centre of the garden, and the com- 
pany walk slowly round like a mill horse pursuing its dull 
trade. But this is thought an exquisite amusement, and 
when the dust gets too oppressive it is washed down with 
weak grog, which ladies drink unblushingly. 

"Ah, you have not seen him, I fancy?" said the 
Colonel. " Well, then, come with me ; the Sultan visits the 
mosque at Tophaneh to-night, and a great crowd will 
assemble. Possibly he may be there." 

And, stepping into a little shop, the Colonel bought two 
paper lamps with farthing rushlights stuck in them, which, 
strange to say, are a better protection in this city of con- 
tradictions than a coat of mail would prove. Your thief 
shuns the light instinctively, and cowers into his lurking 
place till the treacherous glimmer has passed. Down that 
terrible hill they blundered, the Colonel's sabre rattling 
over the stones and giving a solemn warning, and they 
soon reached the great gates of the mosque, where a count- 
less crowd was assembled, patiently enduring the fierce blows 
of the khavasses, in the hope of their pain being deadened 
by a back view of the mighty Padishah as he walked from 
the mosque to his ka'ik. 

The Colonel's uniform procured them admission into the 
square of the mosque, and Charles was lost in admiration 
at the exquisite taste displayed in the illuminations. On 
all sides were planted trees, with coloured lamps suspended 
from them, formed of paper, and representing rlowers : here 
and there a tank of water might be noticed with water-lilies 
floating upon it. The mosque itself was covered with 
lamps up to the summit of the graceful minarets, and the 
tout ensemble (to quote penny-a-linerdom) was superb in 
the extreme. A double guard of honour was drawn up, 



326 WILD OATS. 

the troops positively looking clean for once, and wearing 
handsome embroidered uniforms, while at the spot where 
the Sultan's foot would first touch the soil a splendid 
triumphal arch, was erected. It was composed of very 
simple materials, being merely tin ; but the clever way in 
which it was arranged to reflect the innumerable lights 
rendered it more effective than the most costly efforts of 
our artificers. Suddenly the illuminated vessels in the 
Golden Horu belched forth a sea of flame, the thundering 
echoes pealed round the seven hills, and the Sultan landed. 

During the interval Charles and the Colonel walked 
about the grounds searching in vain for the soi-disant 
Count. Many patibulary physiognomies passed them, 
but not that particular one which they desired to see, and at 
length a hoarse murmur of expectation announced that the 
Padishah had quitted the mosque. Charles hurried up to 
get a view of the mighty monarch, and very irreverently 
broke through the line of troops ; and ha did see a Jewish- 
looking personage in a fez and long black cloak, walking 
with downcast eyes in the centre of a mob of burly gold- 
laced pachas. He started with surprise : that little insig- 
nificant man could not be the descendant of the mighty 
sultans who had carried war and desolation to the gates of 
Vienna, and kept the whole of Europe in a state of nervous 
excitement and terror. He seemed a mere child, cowed and 
broken-spirited, and the timid, hurried manner in which he 
allowed the beads of his jewelled rosary to slip through his 
fingers evinced his knowledge of his powerlessness. The 
poor victim of material enjoyments glided along like a 
ghost to his gaily decorated barge ; he would return to his 
palace at Dolraa Bagtcbe to try all the seductions which a 
sensualist fancy could prepare for him, and dream, mayhap, 
that his nerveless arm was endued with a giant's strength 
to repulse the encroachments of the hateful Moskov 
Giaour. 

So soon as the Sultan had departed, a magnificent dis- 
play of fireworks was let off to satisfy the cravings of the 
mob. They were certainly superb, and Charles was lost iu 
wonder as to the means a notoriously poor government 
could have at its command for such a ruinous outlay. 
Hundreds of shells were fired into the air at once, bursting 
with a fearful crash, enough to rend any unaccustomed 
tympanum ; but the Turks regarded it all as a matter oi 
course, and not even an " ah " of admiration proved them 
roused from their wonted apathy. The ungrateful fellows 



CONSTANTINOPLE. 327 

regarded with perfect indifference the preparations made 
for their amusement, and though the coffee-houses would 
have been filled with seditious cries, had the Ba'iram 
festival not been kept up, they had not a word of recog- 
nition to bestow in return. 

The last shower of shells produced a blaze of light 
rivalling the brightest sunshine, and Charles, involuntarily 
lowering his head before the threatened explosion, saw 
the face he had been in search of in close proximity to 
his elbow. The sudden start he gave warned the Count of 
the presence of an enemy, and he dived under the arm of 
a soldier, and cleft his way through the mass. Charles was 
at his heels in a moment, but found it impossible to come 
up with him before he reached the great gates. The surging 
of the crowd alone indicated the fugitive's passage, and 
Charles elbowed his way furiously along, thrusting the 
passive Turks roughly on one side, until he reached the 
very densest part of the crowd, and the main stream of 
carriages which blocked up the way. 

Pursuit was hopeless: it was almost impossible for Charles 
to insure his own safety, so recklessly did the mounted kha- 
vasses dash through the crowds to make room for the fat 
pachas who sat in the gaily-painted arabas. Worn out with 
the struggle, he at length retired into a corner, where he 
consumed the enti-e stock of an ambulating lemonade-seller. 
How heartily he cursed the Turks who had thus come between 
him and his enemy, my readers may imagine : there was no 
chance now of coming up with him, and the only consola- 
tion was that the Count was still living in Constantinople. 
If human power would avail, Charles swore a bitter oath 
that he would track him to his lair. 

But he was a prisoner himself: the mob flowed onwards 
from the Tophaneh Square for hours, and there was no 
prospect of escape. At length, however, it gradually grew 
thinner, and Charles made his way into a side street, by 
which he hoped to reach the Hotel d'Angleterre and the 
more civilised haunts of man. Many were the contests he 
had to wage with masterless dogs, which evinced an insane 
desire for a rnputhful of trouser and boot, and the stout 
stick he carried served him in good stead. He wandered 
on, bringing up continually against doorways and arabas, 
or almost breaking his neck in deep holes, and, of course, 
lost his way. At length he reached a respectable-looking 
street, which he fancied he recognised, and soon found him- 
self standing on the Piccolo Santo. 



328 



WILD OATS. 



The view, bathed in the exquisite moonlight, of the Bos- 
phorus and Golden Horn was magnificent ; and, had it not 
been for a dead dog lying in the centre of the roadway, and 
emitting most unsavoury stenches, Charles could have gazed 
for ever. His candle had burned out long before, but for 
that he did not care : he was in close proximity to his home, 
and the lights burning in the windows of the Hotel de France 
insured him a welcome safety. He therefore strolled care- 
lessly onwards, and entered the narrow street which runs 
directly to the Hotel d'Angleterre from the little field of the 
dead. Suddenly a man rushed upon him with uplifted 
knife, and he had only just time to raise his stick, and deal 
him a crushing blow across the face. The ruffian, however, 
was so infuriated that he seemed not to care for this assault 
— he rushed upon Charles, and tried to bear him to the 
ground. The struggle was tremendous, and the silence was 
only broken by the hot, hissing breath of the assassin. But 
Charles was not easily to be conquered, and had almost 
mastered his assailant when footsteps were heard. A party 
of khavasses came round the corner with hand-lamps ; the 
ruffian freed himself by a violent wrench, and fled round 
the corner, Charles recognising in the flickering rays the 
man he had so long been in search of. 

Charles started in pursuit, but was again soon distanced. 
The Count ran past the Mevlevie and dashed down a side 
street, where he disappeared, and I have no doubt soon 
gained his fellow-ruffians in Galata. Slight reflection 
proved to Charles the folly of pursuit, and the hostility 
the Count evinced for him thwarted his plans : the prospect 
of recovering the all-important papers seemed more hope- 
less than ever. He therefore returned to Misseri's, where 
he found the Colonel awaiting him. Hungry as he was he 
would have gladly ordered some supper ; but the clock 
had struck eleven, and the despot Misseri had locked up 
the larder, so he was forced to retire to bed impransus, as 
Dr. Johnson once subscribed himself. 

The Colonel agreed with Charles that there was but little 
chance of recovering the documents, for the ruffian was 
evidently on his guard, and if he suspected danger would 
probably burn them, and thus destroy all evidence against 
him. However, the Colonel entered into negotiations with 
some useful scoundrels, who promised to try and recover 
the papers, for which a large reward was offered. He left 
them perfect liberty to kill the Count in trying to recover 



CONSTANTINOPLE. 329 

them, if other means failed ; for, as he philosophically re- 
marked, " it will only save the hangman a joh sooner or 
later." 

In the meanwhile he did his best to amuse Charles by 
taking him to the few sights which Constantinople has to 
offer the stranger. On a couple of the Colonel's horses 
they rode over the New Bridge and visited the Great 
Bazaar, where Charles spent heaps of money in buying 
presents for Helen, which he could have procured in Paris 
or London for one-half the price. But the curious scenes 
the Bazaar presents are worthy of a little overcharge, and 
the Turkish character can nowhere be studied to such perfec- 
tion. When I was last in Stamboul I spent days there 
with a malignant and turbaned Turk, trying to come to 
terms about a Khorassan blade, and the old rogue must 
have spent a little fortune in coffee and Latakiah tobacco ; 
but the bargain came to nothing. He could not be induced 
to lower his price ; on the contrary, he seemed to raise it 
with each day's delay, and though we bargained as bitterly 
as if we were ready to cut each other's throats, we remained 
perfectly good friends when the bargain was broken off. 
The merchant made me a present of a fez, which I requited 
by giving him a pound of cavendish tobacco, and the 
worthy old gentleman shed tears when I announced to him 
my departure for Inghilterra. 

Nor did my hero neglect a visit to the sweet waters of 
Europe, you may be sure, for there is no better opportunity 
for having a sly peep at the " pets of the harem;" but the 
trouble is thrown away. There is nothing worth seeing in 
a very stout sallow woman, whose face is only redeemed 
from positive ugliness by her magnificent eyes. Besides, I 
would defy you to pump up a sentiment for a bundle of 
amber satin, perfectly shapeless, and as clumsy as a domino 
at a masked ball ; and, though the ladies are not at all in- 
disposed to display their charms, you need not go out of 
your way to regard them. 

I remember being awfully sold in the Rue de la Poste by 
three laughing gipsies of Turkish women, who snared me 
into following them by casting Parthian glances at me. 
At the corner near the Austrian embassy one of them 
dropped her veil as if by accident, and I saw the most 
magnificent shiny negro girl I ever met ; but, before I could 
speak to them, they shambled away, and three heavy 
khavasses with white sticks prevented any tentatives on my 



330 WILD OATS. 

part to follow tbem. The scowling policemen hissed a 
" Jawur " at me, to which I responded with a smiling 
" Pezevenk," and they went on their way, fairly beaten at 
finding an infidel so well up to their slang. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

" VEXGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE L0KD." 

Weeks slipped away unprofitably. No trace of the Count 
could be found, and Charles was prepared to give up the 
chase in despair, moved to this opinion in a great measure 
by the awful proportions of Misseri's little bill. However, 
the Colonel very kindly offered him a share of his apart- 
ments, and, being thus enabled to reduce his expenses, 
Charles took a peep at Turkish private life. It was not 
unpleasant by any means. Hippmann had some splendid 
airy rooms looking over the Bosphorus, which could only 
be reached through a very cut-throat court, and Charles 
was much pleased with the society he met there. After the 
first plunge, as in the sea, and conquering bis repugnance 
to the idea of renegades, Charles learned a great deal from 
them on the subject of the boasted Turkish reform. They 
were unanimous in regarding it as a caput mortuum, by 
means of which the Turkish Divan tried to delude the outer 
barbarians; but there was no sincerity in their promises. 
Looking on themselves as merely encamped in Europe, and 
6tolirlly awaiting the day when the white-haired barbarian 
would drive them back to their happy hunting grounds in 
Asia Minor, it was not likely that the Turks would put 
themselves out of their way to grant any concession to 
infidels, which they knew would only be regarded as 
occasioned by fear. The plainest proof of this feeling will 
be found in the fact that the richer Turks are all buried in 
the cemetery at Scutari, lest their bones might be eventually 
trodden under the heel of the Giaour. 

The renegades who have received appointments in the 
Turkish service are generally honest men, and set out on 
their duties with an ardent desire to earn their money 
honestly. I do not think I would put any faith in the con- 
version of a Catholic, nor would I admire any Englishmen 



" VJSNGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD." 331 

who followed their example. But the renegades who are 
now serving as Beys in the Turkish army and offices were 
in a very peculiar position ; they were starving and hopeless 
of returning home, whence they had been driven by the* 
victory of the troops, and, as for religion, those of my 
readers acquainted with Germany will agree with me 
that the least said upon that matter the better. But I 
do not believe that the change has been produced by 
any devotional feeling, for men that have proved false to 
the faith of their fathers cannot believe in Mahommedism, 
which requires a most sincere and blind belief. I have even 
my doubts about old Bern, although the Turks did make 
a saint of him, naturally assuming that the conversion of 
so old a man must have been occasioned by faith in the 
vitality of the new religion he took up. 

But apart from the religious aspect, as I said before, the 
German renegades in the Turkish service are honest men, 
and have striven to do their duty honestly. I bad occasion 
to meet several of them at Stamboul in the rooms of 
Colonel Waagman, formerly chief interpreter to Lord Raglan, 
and they were unanimous in their disgust at their treatment. 
If the Turks are distinguished for one quality more tban 
another it is for ingratitude. See how they treated Iskender 
Bey (Count Illinski), who gained the battle of Citate for 
them, and took four Russian guns at Oltenitza. They thought 
they had amply rewarded him by appointing him to a lieu- 
tenant-colonelcy, while the cowardly pachas, who ran awav 
as fast as their corpulency would permit, were made gene- 
rals. I hardly know one instance of a renegade who has 
gained by the step. Even Omar Pasha, once the admiration 
of Europe, is now forgotten; but perhaps he deserves it for 
his neglect of the Turkish army at Kars. Among the rene- 
gades I have met few have got beyond a colonelcy, and 
they have had to endure dire contumely and insult before 
they attained that rank. In action they are always exposed 
to the enemy's fire, and bear the brunt of the engagement; 
but they need anticipate no reward for their folly. If they 
gain the respect of their troops by their spirited co iduct, 
they fall into disgrace and are shelved ; and thus, heart- 
weary with the struggle against Turkish sloth and selfish- 
ness, they have ended by subsiding into thorough dr< nes. 
while chafing inwardly at the compulsion which fo.cet 
them into idleness. 

But, even if they were allowed to carry their reforms intc 
effect without government opposition, they could not make 



332 WILD OATS. 

head against the resistance offered by the Turkish regi- 
mental officers. The lieutenants and captains are honest, 
well-meaning men ; but all the general officers are not worth 
their salt. They spend their time in extorting bucksheesh 
from the privates, and cooking the roster by keeping dead 
men on to draw their pay. They are, of course, ignorant; 
but they are arrogant at the same time, aud their thick- 
headed obstinacy is the curse of the Turkish army. These 
were the men who thwarted the efforts of the European 
officers in the Turkish contingent, and tried to sow ill- 
feeling among the troops. Fortunately their little plans 
were defeated, and the contingent was in a fair way of 
repaying the outlay made upon it when the force was dis- 
banded, and the English officers rewarded for their exertions 
by two months' gratuity, and leave to get home from Con- 
stantinople in any way they thought proper. As an officer 
of that force I know I ought in duty bound to abuse Lord 
Stratford for preventing us having the Medjidie, which the 
Sultan was willing to give us; but, regarding the manifold 
services that amiable old gentleman has done his country, 
I cannot find it in my heart to attack him. Errare huma- 
num est is very applicable to our envoy at Stamboul. 

Charles was seated with his friend one evening, arguing 
about the regeneration of Turkey — that favourite topic with 
all persons who know nothing of the Turks — when Agob, 
the joint-servant, thrust a very dirty note into Hippmann's 
hand. He hurriedly perused it, and then, turning to 
Charles, said, — 

"My son, the person to whom I intrusted the affair with 
the Count writes to say that he wishes to see you to-night 
at M. Jefferini's in Galata; he has important news to 
communicate. I would advise you to go. I would accom- 
pany you, but that I must be at the seraglio to-morrow 
morning at four o'clock to kiss hands, and a long night's 
rest is very necessary. Agob, a horse for the Effendi ! " he 
shouted, clapping his hands, and within a few minutes 
Charles was on his road to Galata. He found the house 
indicated with some difficulty, and, sending the horse back 
to Pera by the sais, walked into a filthy den, where the 
guests sat on casks, to meet the writer of the letter. It 
proved, as he had anticipated, only a pretext to get more 
money out of him, and he angrily quitted the den, almost 
vowing that he would give up a search which brought him 
into contact with such villanous accomplices. 

He was making his way toward Per; when the signal of 



" VENGEANCE IS MINE, SA1TH THE LORD." 333 

seven guns was heard booming from the seraglio point, and 
the loud shouts of " Yangin Var !" proved that Tophaneh 
was suffering from the usual scourge. Out of curiosity 
Charles followed the firemen as they trotted up, some carry- 
ing large leathern squirts, while others were armed with 
long iron-shod poles to pull down the burniug beams, which 
assisted the progress of the fire. When he reached the 
scene of danger the fire was spreading with fearful rapidity ; 
some thirty houses were already levelled with the ground, 
and there appeared no chance of saving any portion of the 
quarter. 

But Charley's attention was attracted to a tall latticed 
window, whence shrieks could be heard issuing, the Turks 
looking on coolly the while, and saying, " It is the will of 
God." At length Charles distinguished through the smoke 
a young man in a sailor's garb, leaning out of the upper 
part of the window, and imploring help. Charles snatched 
an axe from a bystander, and, bidding the Turks raise one 
of their clumsy ladders, he bounded up it, and soon drove 
in the latticework with his vigorous blows. He then leaped 
into the room, picked up the inmate, who was lying sense- 
less from smoke and terror at the foot of the window, and 
bore him quickly down the ladder, without receiving any 
damage worse than the singeing of a favourite whisker. 

The crowd, for a wonder, seemed greatly excited by this 
simple act of bravery, for, though constitutionally so brave, 
not a Turk there would have tried to counteract the in- 
evitable decree of fate by stretching out a finger; and 
water was brought, by Charles's direction, .to sprinkle in 
the young man's face. He opened his eyes wildly, and, as 
they fell on Charles, he gave a loud shriek and fainted. In 
tearing open his jacket Charles found to his surprise that 
it was a woman, and an indistinct notion that the face 
was familiar to hirn grew momentarily stronger. 

The stranger opened her eyes again after a pause and 
nuttered, " Surely this must be the hand of God. Mr. 
Dashwood, you remember me, Julie Monthemar?" 

Charles was very much excited, as you may suppose, and 
something seemed to tell him instinctively that this meet- 
ing would have a great result. He was not mistaken ; for 
Julie, as soon as she had recovered, begged him to remove 
her to Pera. She had much to tell him, and it would be 
better for them to be out of hearing. Charles removed her 
to his lodgings, much to the surprise of Colonel Hippmann, 
and anxiously awaited her story. Julie was beaming with 



•634: WILD 0AT3. 

triumph ; for she had succeeded, she expected, in avenging 
herself on the Count, and it added to her satisfaction that 
he had fallen almost into the selfsame trap as he had laid 
for her. 

"Oh, Mr. Dashwood!" she said passionately, "you do 
not know the Corsican girls, I can see. I had sworn to be 
revenged on the villain Jacques, and I have been success- 
ful. Although he thought himself so clever, he was a 
child when he yielded to my wiles. I made him believe 
that I still dearly loved him, and had followed him for that 
reason. He fell into the snare with his eyes open, and I 
gradually regained his entire confidence. Last week he 
had formed a plan with several of his accomplices to break 
into Stampa's store. I seized all his papers and money so 
soon as his back was turned, and denounced him to the 
police. He will be hanged, I believe. Did you ever see a 
man hanged, Mr. Dashwood ? They tell me he does not 
die directly, but has time to think of the past. Julie 
will be present, and, just as he is dying, will show him her 
cheek, which bears the mark of his blow still. You will go 
too, Mr. Dashwood, to see the murderer of Madame Leblanc 
pay the penalty of his numerous crimes?" 

And Julie worked herself up into a state of dangerous 
insanity, and clutched at her knife with an ominous glare, 
which evidenced that Jacques would have but a poor 
chance of escape, even if he succeeded in getting out of the 
bands of the Turkish police. But her fury was redoubled 
when the Colonel said coolly, — 

" I am afraid, my poor girl, that you have deceived your- 
self; your villanous Count will be handed over to his own 
consul, and stands but little chance of hanging. He will 
probably be imprisoned for a short time at Prinkipo, and 
then let loose again to prey upon society." 

"I will make sure of that. If he do not meet with the 
proper punishment I will take it on myself: he shall not 
escape, be assured," said Julie frantically. " But I must 
guard against his accomplices; they fired the house this 
night in the hope of recovering Jacques' papers and money 
during the confusion; but they will be foiled — ha, ha! 
But stay, Mr. Dashwood; they may succeed in killing me, 
though I am certain God will spare me till I have enjoyed 
my righteous revenge. I have handed the papers to the 
Abbe Lacoste, and he will only deliver them up on a written 
authority from myself. I will give it you, and I hope 
you will tell Miss Helen that Julie's last prayer was 



" VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAIXH THE LORD." 335 

for her happiness. Here is the requisite document. Good 
night ! " 

" Stay, Julie, you must not expose yourself to danger. 
Jacques' accomplices will strive to get you out of the way, 
you may be sure — then why not trust to my protection?" 

"I thank you, Mr. Dashwood, but I am quite fearless; 
I feel confident tbat Jacques will not escape, but I must 
take every precaution to prevent it. I shall watch the 
prison closely in which he is confined, and if I find your 
opinion confirmed my knife will avenge me; so do not 
try to stop me — I have a mission to perform, and feel 
certain I shall not fail." 

And she glided from the room like a ghost, leaving 
Charles all in amazement, but yet heartily pleased at the 
thought that he was now in a fair way of accomplishing 
the object of his stay in Constantinople. He proceeded the 
next day to the Abbe Lacoste, and recovered the all-im- 
portant documents, which were securely fastened up and 
addressed to Miss Mowbray, and, though burning with a 
desire to solve the mystery, he would not break the seal. 
Nothing now detained him longer in Stamboul; but, packing 
up his traps, and drawing some money from the embassy 
for his expenses, he prepared to start for Giirkenhof. This 
time, however, he was heartily resolved not to undergo the 
peine forte et dure of a journey up the Danube, and deter- 
mined on returning via Trieste. 

But Colonel Hippmann was quite correct in his apprecia- 
tion of the mixed tribunals. The French consul had a 
fine opportunity for intriguing, and made such a pother 
about his naughty countryman that the Turkish authorities 
were glad to give in. Jacques was condemned to a few 
weeks' incarceration at Prinkipo, and would then be set at 
liberty, with strict injunctions not to return to Constan- 
tinople, lest a worse thing might befall him. It would be 
impossible to describe the fury Julie felt on hearing that 
her prey was thus escaping from her ; and she prowled 
round the prison, regardless of personal danger, fearing 
lest Jacques might be removed when she was not present 
to avenge herself. 

At length the day arrived on which Jacques was to be 
removed from the prison to the steamer. As soon as he 
made his appearance under a strong guard of Turkish 
soldiers, Julie flew at him like a tigress, and would have 
driven the dagger into his heart, but the craven shrank 
back at the sight of the outraged woman, whose dupe he 



336 WILD OATS. 

had suffered himself to become, and she was dragged ofi* 
by some khavasses. The disappointment turned her ex- 
citable brain, and the idea that her revenge was torn from 
her at the moment when it was in her grasp made her 
perfectly mad. It was a pitiable sight to see her struggling 
maniacally with the soldiers, who treated ber so kindly, 
through their innate respect for all insane persons. Jacques, 
however, burst into a coarse laugh, and, T doubt not, felt 
very much easier in mind when he found that Julie was 
thus rendered harmless to injure him. 

He walked down Pera Hill humming a French drinking 
song gaily, and, though the morning was gloomy and 
threatening, he little heeded it. It seemed as if nature her- 
self was revolted by this mockery of justice. At length 
the procession reached the new bridge where the steamers 
start for the Princes' Islands, and Jacques turned defiantly 
back to clench his fist at Pera, and vow a bitter revenge on 
those who had driven him so ignominiously from its walls. 
His eye fell on Charles as he stood watching the embarka- 
tion, and he turned livid at the remembrance which his 
presence conjured up; but he soon regained his bravado, 
and shouted, — 

"Ah, you white-livered dog! you think you are tri- 
umphant now, but my turn will come again. You shall not 
enjoy the company of your fair-haued English girl for 
long. I will step in to prevent your happiness. I will 
revenge myself upon you, even if all the demons in hell 
strive to stop me." 

He had scarcely uttered this blasphemous threat ere a 
vivid flash of lightning burst from the black cloud above 
his head, followed by a deafening peal of thunder, before 
the awful majesty of which every one involuntarily bowed 
his head. When they recovered from their terror Jacques 
was noticed to be lying on the ground. The soldiers tried 
to raise him, fancying that the flash had terrified him; but 
it was in vain — he was quite dead. The divine vengeance 
had fallen with awful effect upon him. It had seared the 
tongue with which he had dared to utter such a grim 
defiance, and the Turks lifted him from the ground, piously 
ejaculating, "It is the will of God !" 

What became of Julie was never accurately known. She 
lay in a state of delirium for months, tended with un- 
wearied patience and kindness by the Abbe. At length 
she suddenly disappeared from the world, and it was 
believed that she had become a sister of charity. But I 



" VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD." 337 

Know that tbis was the case, and I may add that she was 
killed by a round shot at the siege of Sebastopol, where she 
continually exposed herself to danger in assisting wounded 
soldiers in the trenches. May a life of sincere penitence 
and chastisement have averted from her the awful con- 
sequences of her great and manifold sins! The soldiers 
swore by Sister Julie as an angel, and many a tear fell 
upon her grave from eyes which would have laughed at a 
notion of shedding a tear; and even old Leroux, the father 
of the Zouaves, who allowed his leg to be cut off without a 
murmur, and only cursed when the surgeon asked him if 
he hurt him, was observed to be extremely thoughtful when 
the news of Julie's death was broken to him, and borrowed 
a good book to read, from which, only the week before, he had 
irreligiously torn out a leaf for conversion into cigarettes. 

The sight of Jacques' awful death sickened Charles of 
Constantinople. Do what he could that awful grinning 
face rose before him constantly, and lie took a hearty leave 
of Colonel Hippmann, giving him and his renegade friends 
as good a dinner as Droyschmann cou'.d put before them. 
Many a bottle of Cyprus was drunk to the health of the 
host, and I regret to say some very revolutionary toasts 
were proposed. But, poor fellows, they could not be 
blamed; for only a sanguinary subversion of the existing 
relations in Europe would enable them to return home, 
and give up the miserable existence they were undergoing 
in Cassim Pacha Barracks. 

I have written more favourably of these renegades than 
perhaps my readers may think justifiable ; but I speak in 
some measure from personal knowledge, and had very 
favourable opportunities of appreciating their excellent 
qualities during the past war. They behaved with remark- 
able bravery on behalf of a most thankless cause, and in no 
instance, I believe, was their integrity called in question ; 
and they are now leading a truly wretched life, for the 
Turkish government vents its spite at the forced contact 
with infidels upon them. It is a great fallacy to suppose 
that the Turks feel one particle of gratitude to the French 
and English allies for their interference. I can say from 
personal knowledge that nine tenths of the Mussulmans be- 
lieved that we were compelled to send our armies to Sebas- 
topol as vassals of the mighty Padishah, and that his only 
reason for allowing us to take part in the combat was to 
save the lives of the faithful. And if my readers are indis- 
posed to credit tbis, let them ask any officer conversant 



338 WILD OATS. 

with the Turks as to his opinion about them, and if he do 
not agree in every particle with myself, and allow that they 
are a set of unmitigated ruffians and ungrateful scoundrels, 
whom it will be a standing disgrace for England to claim 
as allies, why, I am willing to cancel every word I have 
written, and pin my faith on M. Ubicini's statements about 
them. 



CHAPTER XL. 

IE NEVEU DE SON ONCLE. 



Helen soon wearied of the amusements Paris afforded, 
and though the Princess tried hard to assert her dignity, 
there is always something about the position of a lady 
separated from her husband which leads to unpleasant re- 
marks. At length the Princess appeared inclined to cast 
off all reserve, and after an application to her husband that 
matters should be re-arranged between them, so that the 
convenances might be restored on a satisfactory footing, she 
threw down the glove on his refusal, and became one of 
the most fervent partisans of the Prince President, her 
salons being the gathering place of all those persons who 
trusted in the Napoleonic star, and believed that the tran- 
quillity of Europe depended on the success of that wonder- 
ful man. 

This, as may be supposed, rendered the breach irrecon- 
cilable between husband and wife. Prince Rubelskoff, as 
blood-relation of the Czar, could not endure the notion that 
a person allied to his house should so overtly espouse the 
cause of a parvenu, as it was the fashion to call Louis 
Napoleon at the Russian court, and who was hated so 
fervently because there was very just ground to fear him 
in the event of his asserting his supremacy. The Prince 
consulted his notary to try and stop his wife's allowance, 
or hold that threat over her in terrorem; but he was com- 
pletely foiled. Nothing could be done in that quarter, and 
if the Princess liked to hand over the whole of her fortune 
to the Prince President she was at perfect liberty to do so. 

There was something very fascinating to Helen in this 
playing at politics, and she was delighted at the company 
who assembled in the Princess's salons. The great names 



LE NEVEC DE SOIS OWCLE. 339 

of Algeria buzzed constantly in berear, and even tbe Prince 
President himself made his august appearance now and 
then, and completely won Helen's heart by talking to her 
in English. His affability had a marvellous effect on the 
Princess, and she bitterly regretted that she was still tied 
so closely to her husband, for her vanity whispered to her 
that she could gain the President's heart. But in that she 
was mistaken ; he was not at all the man to be led away 
from his great object by woman's blandishments. Business 
first and pleasure afterwards was his motto during the 
whole of his stormy debates with the turbulent and very 
windy constituent assembly. But the Princess enjoyed 
tbe compensation of having all the generals at her feet; for, 
as true Frenchmen, they could plot and make love at the 
same time, and, had the Princess been disposed to com- 
promise herself, she would have bad ample opportunities. 
But her ambition took a higher flight, and Helen's presence 
was a great safeguard to her. In constant intercourse with 
that pure minded girl, it was not possible for her to give 
way to thoughts of evil, which she knew would grieve 
Helen even more than herself. 

On looking calmly at the game of chess which the Prince 
President played against the assembly, the stake being 
his own head, the most uncompromising opponent of 
Louis Napoleon must credit him with the perfect mastery 
of the game and true knowledge of the power of the pieces. 
The condition was most anomalous; the " Sword of France " 
was measuring his strength against the President, and, 
with the majority at his back, felt certain of success ; but 
his defences were carried one after the other, and he 
was left at last perfectly exposed, and yet unable to com- 
plain of illegality, so naturally did the moves follow each 
other. The odium of acting against the law was thrown 
upon him, and he was in the toils of the hunter at the 
momant that he imagined himself the strongest. All his 
attempts to establish a pretorian guard and sell the empire 
to the highest bidder failed; and there is no doubt but 
that, had not the Prince President prevented him, he would 
have had recourse to some extreme measure, and thrown 
France into the most inextricable confusion. 

Changarnier was indubitably a clever man. Eecent 
revelations have taught us that he believed in the re-estab- 
lishment of the empire from the first appearance of Louis 
Napoleon on the political arena, and had the means in his 
hands to carry it into effect ; but he was flattered into the 



340 WILD OATS. 

insane idea that he could play the part of a parliamentary 
Monk, the while entertaining an arriere pensee that the fall of 
the dice might be favourable to himself. In all probability, 
had Dupin yielded to Changarnier's proposition of estab- 
lishing a parliamentary army, France would have been 
exposed to all the horrors of a civil war; but Dupin, 
although very willing to overthrow the Prince President, 
was sufficiently a patriot to foresee the lamentable result to 
his country, and drew back in terror at the audacious 
designs of the " Sword of France." 

During the whole of the summer Helen carefully watched 
the movements on either side, and her admiration for the 
President grew unbounded, for she recognised in his cautious 
yet energetic steps the only possible salvation for France. 
At length the necessity of a coup d'etat was openly can- 
vassed in the salon, and, though its execution depended on 
the will of the President, every one could see that it could 
not be averted for long. In the meanwhile the assembly 
was playing into the President's hands: it derided the 
expressed wish of the nation for a revision of the constitu- 
tion, and amused itself by putting up impossible candidates 
for the presidential seat. Louis Napoleon foiled them 

: utterly by the selection of a ministry entirely independent 
of the assembly, and thus forced it into showing its 

•hand. 

At length the crisis arrived ; the assembly so far forgot 
itself as to menace General St. Araaud with arrest in its 
own bosom. The will of the people was openly expressed, 
and the hydra-headed faction must be put down by force. 
In these critical circumstances General Magnan took that 
bold step which decided the destiny of France. He made 
known to the generals of the army of Paris the impending 
struggle, and sought their adhesion. It was a most daring 
step, and taken on his own exclusive responsibility; but he 
was not deceived in his officers. They willingly consented 
to take their part in averting danger, and swore to maintain 
secrecy, and they kept their oath so rigorously that, until 
Granier de Cassagnac revealed the affair very recently, no 
one knew how Napoleon had succeeded in his design, and 
been enabled to take those comprehensive measures which 
rendered any attempt at opposition futile. 

What strange thoughts must have passed through Napo- 
leon's mind when the moment for action arrived! The 
usual assembly bad taken place at the Elysee, but not a 
sign of pre-occupation was visible on the President's brow. 



LE NEVEU DE SON ONCIE. 841 

He received his guests with his usual imperturbable calm- 
ness, and listened to their suggestions blandly, but with no 
intention to alter his foregone conclusions. That very day 
he had received Monsieur de Heckeren as envoy of Mon- 
sieur Falloux, who had charitably proposed a combination 
which would avert all danger, and lead to a general pacifica- 
tion. The President's reply was, that he was enchanted at 
the good news, and begged him to call again the next morn- 
ing to discuss the affair. By that time the game was played 
out, and Monsieur de Heckeren was only too glad to be one 
of the numerous band who flocked in to congratulate the 
President on his success. 

By eleven o'clock on the evening of the 1st of December the 
salons were closed, and the actors of the impending drama 
were closeted with the Prince. They were but four, for the 
President knew that success was only certain by confining 
the secret to the smallest possible number. They were men 
whom he had bound to himself by piling benefits upon 
them, and who would surely be true to him through grati- 
tude, were it only in the shape of a lively sense of favours 
to come. They had nothing to lose, but everything to gain : 
a failure might cost them their heads, but they set very 
slight value upon those articles of personal use. To St. 
Arnaud was intrusted the duty of directing the troops and 
crushing any attempted opposition ; Monsieur de Morny, 
after counter-signing the decree of the dissolution of 
the assembly, would undertake the initiative, and all 
the responsibility of the measures to insure tranquillity 
in France and the provinces ; Monsieur de Maupas had to 
perform the arrests judged necessary ; while Monsieur de 
Beville had the very difficult task of carrying to the printing 
office, and watching with Monsieur de Saint Georges, direc 
tor of the establishment, the publication of the official docu- 
ments. These gentlemen, with the Prince's secretary, M. 
Mocquard, received the final instructions from the Pnnce, 
and we all know how perfectly they carried them into effect. 

As may be supposed, many of the prisoners were very 
indignant that their own plot had been so cleverly nipped 
in the bud; but M. Charles Lagrange summed up the affair 
pithily enough in a few words. General le Flo, quaestor 
of the dissolved assembly, was extremely violent; but M. 
Lagrange said, "Why are you so angry, General? We 
wished to shut up the President of the republic here, and 
he has shut us up instead. Well played, ma foil I do not 
feel the least angry with him;" and I fancy that the old 



342 WILD OATS. 

opponent of the President must in his heart have confessed 
the same justification. 

The rump parliament tried very hard to assert its dignity, 
but made a lamentable failure of it. The popular feeling 
was against them, and they speedily reverted to their 
nothingness. The majority of the prisoners were offered 
their liberty, but declined it, and gentle pressure was re- 
quired to make them leave a prison which they had been 
so unwilling to enter. The moral resistance was overcome, 
and all that remained to do was to give the democrats one 
sharp but crushing blow, which would keep them quiet for 
a very long while. In this matter General Magnan dis- 
played the ability of an experienced tactician. He allowed 
the revolution to come to a head before he proceeded to 
attack it, and the insurrectionists were enveloped in a net- 
work of bayonets, which they found it impossible to break 
through. Three hours' hard fighting settled the business, 
the total loss of the insurgents amounting to one hundred 
and seventy-five killed, and one hundred and fifteen wounded. 
I daresay my readers remember the stories which filled the 
English papers at the time about the massacre which took 
place at nightfall on the Champ de Mars, and in the forts 
surrounding Paris. I am sorry to be obliged to overthrow 
a fiction so pleasing to the enemies of Louis Napoleon, but 
there is not a word of truth in the story. The Emperor's 
conduct has been a sufficient guarantee that even at that 
period he knew how to temper justice with mercy. 

Another story, believed with equal credulity at the period 
when Dr. Lardner was pouring out the vials of his wrath 
through the columns of the Times upon the Prince Pre- 
sident, that twenty millions of francs were taken from the 
bank to reward the soldiers, is also unfounded. There is 
strong ground for the belief that Louis Napoleon entered 
on his perilous path with insolvency staring him in the 
face. Everything he possessed in the world prior to the 
coup d'etat was a sum of fifty thousand francs, which he 
ordered Colonel Fleury to distribute to the troops, because 
he knew that on certain memorable occasions the soldiers 
had succumbed to hunger rather than to defeat. 

I can hardly believe that any apology is now necessary 
for the conduct of the Prince President during the coup 
d'etat, for the English nation has rescinded its former 
opinion, and recognised the absolute necessity of his acting 
precisely in the way he did. Still I am glad to have an 
opportunity of making known these facts, believing as I do 



LE NEVEU DE SON ONC^a 343 

that all publicity should be given to every circumstance 
which will prove the steady, persistent course of the Em- 
peror of the French, thus furnishing the best guarantee 
that no seduction will be strong enough to make him break 
that alliance which forms the most brilliant epoch in the 
history of the two nations. Waterloo has been amply 
avenged, and the generous English have shown their 
readiness to wipe out all remembrances of the past, and 
insert in their place the glorious present. 

It may be imagined with what fury the Prince RubelskoL 
received the news of Louis Napoleon's success, for it ren- 
dered him still more powerless to insult his wife. She 
would have a stanch supporter in the President, as a reward 
for her past exertions in his cause, and could snap her 
fingeis at all orders to visit Petersburg, and do penance for 
her past sins. In this state of things the crafty Tartar hit 
on a scheme only worthy his own debased nature. He 
hurried off to Giirkenhof, and terrified the Grand Duke by 
giving him a sad picture of his daughter's conduct, more 
than hinting that, in all probability, she would soon be 
affichee as the mistress of the President of a republic. What 
a disgrace to a crowned head! It is true that Pumper- 
nickel owed its existence to the first Napoleon, who had 
carved out a place for it in the map of Europe. Still the 
Grand Duke thought his generosity would not require him 
to sacrifice his name. 

Still it was a very delicate subject. The Grand Duke 
stood in considerable awe of his daughter, since she had 
asserted her independence in so prononce a manner; and it 
would not do for him to blurt out the awkward story he 
had heard, as he felt very sure that any violent steps 
would only impel Bertha to do the very thing he wished to 
avoid. As usual, he consulted the Countess, on whom he 
was beginning to lean more than ever. 

"You see, Rosa," he said, after a lengthened conference, 
" if it had only been a Bourbon it would not have mattered 
so much. The Czar must have looked over the matter in 
consideration of the influence he would thus have gained, 
and if the affair could only have been kept quiet it would 
not have mattered much. But a Napoleon ! Ugh!" And 
the Grand Duke gave a shudder, and felt much inclined to 
sing with Mrs. Peachum : — 

" My Bertha is a sad slut, nor minds what I have taught her, 
I wonder any man alive would ever rear a daughter.' 



344 W.LD OATS. 

" I quite agree with you," the Countess replied thought- 
fully ; " the esclaudre must be avoided. The only thing I 
can suggest is that you should write to Miss Mowbray, and 
urge upon her the necessity of Bertha coming home. Tell 
her that you are ill, and wish to see your daughter, or any- 
thing of that sort, and the Princess will fall into the snare 
at once." 

Much relieved by this suggestion, the Grand Duke pro- 
ceeded to put it into execution; while the Countess, who 
bad no wish to share her imperium in imperio with a rival, 
consulted with Prince Rubelskoff as to the best scheme for 
getting the Princess off to Russia, where he could shut her 
up on one of his estates and punish her for past insults. 
The worthy couple hit on an infallible plan, as they 
thought, which the straightforwardness of the Princess 
foiled in the simplest manner. 

On the receipt of the letter Helen soon induced her 
mistress to consent to visit Giirkenhof, as her father desired 
it, but suggested that she should insist on the retirement 
of Prince Rubelskoff from the court before she entered it. 
The Grand Duke gladly consented, and gave him notice to 
quit, which the Prince was forced to obey, and thus the 
Princess escaped all danger. He was a good father so far 
as royal papas go, and, next to himself, dearly loved his 
daughter. We have seen that his moral ideas were not 
peculiarly straitlaced, and it was only the fear of the Russian 
bugbear which caused him to interfere in the matter at 
all; but he was quite sufficiently acquainted with Prince 
Rubelskoff to feel that he was not the man to make his 
daughter happy, and thought, consequently, that the sepa- 
ration was the best possible thing for all parties. Hence 
the Countess was especially careful not to drop a word 
about her little plot, and was content to bide her time. 

It cost the Princess rather a hard struggle to quit the 
delights of Paris and the ovation which was being paid her 
as one of the stanchest friends of the new dynasty ; but 
ebe could not withstand the appeal her father had made. 
She immediately made ber preparations for her journey, 
»nd was followed by an army of cavalieri, who made a 
perfect change in the simple habits of the court. She 
found the Grand Duke in his usual state of health, and 
began to suspect that some plot was on foot against her 
security; but the perfect calmness her father maintained 
during her cross examinations satisfied her that he, at least,* 
was no party to any scheme against her peace of mind. 



LE NEVEU DE SON ONCLE. 345 

The Countess, too, was agreeably disappointed. The Prin- 
cess had seen the world since her last residence in Giirken- 
hof, and was now quite willing to meet her on terms of 
friendship, almost of intimacy. Some judiciously applied 
flattery quite converted the Countess to the opinion that her 
left-handed daughter-in-law was a much-injured woman, 
and that it was the duty of her friends to protect her from 
the brutality of her husband. In short, the Prince's art- 
fully concocted scheme turned entirely against himself, and, 
instead of gaining his point, and forcing the Princess to 
Eussia, he found himself, to his intense annoyance, regarded 
with suspicion at Giirkenhof, and his intrigues utterly de- 
feated. I may as well add here that he never regained his 
power over the Princess Bertha: they remained separate in 
life, as they had been in habits and education. In the last 
war the Princess was relieved from her odious fetters : the 
Prince was present at the siege of Silistria, much against 
his will, and, in trying to beat an ignominious retreat, he 
tumbled over a gun-carriage, and right into the way of a 
ricochetting cannon-ball, which carried off his head. The 
Princess vows she will never marry again, but I have my 
doubts. At any rate, she seems to prove the truth of the 
saying, that " on revient toujours a ses premiers amours," for 
the Count von Eckstein is her first chamberlain and her con- 
stant companion. This affords much scope for scandal, but 
crowned heads are raised far above such trivial considera- 
tions. She lives principally at Giirkenhof, and is adored by 
the people, owing to her unbounded charity, and altogether 
has had a very fortunate escape from the quicksands of 
matrimony. The news that the Emperor of the French 
was about to marry affected her unpleasantly, and she was 
out of spirits for a short period ; but she soon recovered, 
and I daresay will smother all her dreams of ambition by 
becoming a good wife and fond mother before long. 

But I am sadly running from my text. The return of 
Helen to Giirkenhof just at the period when Charles arrived 
in that city was so opportune, that, had I been writing a 
work of fiction, I have no doubt my readers would call it a 
, clumsy contrivance. But such is the advantage of adhering 
to facts; and the adventures of Mr. Charles Dashwood are 
only a further confirmation that " truth is at times stranger 
than fiction." All left me now to do is to withdraw the 
veil which has hung over my heroine through the story, 
though I daresay my readers have lifted the curtain and 
taken a sly peep for themselves. But I generally find, 



346 WILD OATS. 

when I try to keep a secret, that it becomes tbe most trans- 
parent, and I have no doubt you are all prepared for the 
revelation it is my duty to make in the following chapter. 



CHAPTER XLI. 

WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN ' 



My friend Mr. Whitty, in his most amusing but slightly 
improper book, " Friends of Bohemia," takes opportunity to 
have a sly rap at novelists. He says that " in the plot of 
three-volume novels everything is revealed in the last 
chapter — the 'Who killed Cock Robin? I, said the 
Sparrow,' " form of fiction requiring these unities. I con- 
fess that I agree with Mr. Whitty, as I do in most things 
which that very talented gentleman puts forth; but I 
am sorry to say I am constitutionally nervous, and dare 
not quit tbe beaten track. Besides, I fancy that surprise 
is the chief element of success in a novel. What interest 
could I have attempted to raise in my characters had I 
told you at starting who Helen Mowbray's father was ? 
There is something flattering to the reader in giving him 
a nut to crack during the progress of the story, and it 
causes him or her a glow of inward satisfaction to reach the 
denouement, and be able to say to himself, " I thought that 
was it." Hence I am afraid that Mr. Whitty s subversive 
theories will meet no recognition from the constituted 
authorities, and his attacks on the present system of novel 
writing will fail in their effect. The only plan that appears 
to me feasible is to effect a compromise, and do the Cock 
Robin business in the antepenultimate chapter. 

Charles had been waiting impatiently for Helen's return, 
and you can believe counted the hours during which he 
was forced to remain in suspense. She had, therefore, 
hardly descended at the palace ere be sent her a hurried 
note announcing his success, and accompanied by the all- 
important documents, which he hoped would insure their 
mutual felicity. Nor was Helen inclined to defer hope any 
longer; she burned to read the papers, and, so soon as she 
could retire with decency, shut herself up in her room, and 
with beating pulse broke the seals which still veiled the 
past and the future from her knowledge. 



WHO KILLED COCK BOBIN ? 347 

A sickly feeling overpowered her when she held the 
documents in her hand, and it was some minutes before 
she dared to unfold them. A much-worn paper irresistibly 
attracted her attention, and the first glance took her breath 
away. It was the marriage certificate of Amyas Dashwood, 
Esquire, and Ida Trevanion. 

How the blood coursed through her veins on making this 
discovery ! Her heart had not deceived her, then — the 
kind interest Sir Amyas had lately displayed in her welfare 
emanated from something more than friendship ; and yet 
why had not the strange old man revealed this secret to 
her? He must have known that she was wretched through 
her ignorance of her parentage, and yet did not utter the 
word which would restore her to happiness. She sought 
further confirmation at once in the papers so strangely 
recovered, and soon understood the sad tale. But while 
she is perusing them with tearful eyes I had better throw 
the story into a narrative, and solve the few mysteries still 
remaining. 

Amyas and Charles Dashwood had been rivals from their 
youth up. The younger chafed at the notion that during 
his brother's life there would be no chance of his succeeding 
to the title, and determined to rival him in every possible 
way. This was easy enough. Sir Amyas was weak and 
slow to learn, Charles just the reverse. Amyas was de- 
feated in the schoolroom and in the playground, and bis 
more daring brother was the idol of all his playmates. 
There was always something retiring in Amyas, which his 
schoolfellows ascribed to pride, but which in reality ori- 
ginated in nervousness, and he was bitterly grieved by the 
superiority which his younger brother maintained over 
him. 

At length, during the holidays, matters came to a climax, 
and Amyas, maddened with passion, struck his younger 
brother, with the certainty of being most heartily thrashed 
for his impudence. To the Dashwoods a blow was instinct- 
ively a horror, and Charles, infuriated with passion, seized 
a bat and struck his brother violently across the leg. 
Amyas fell, and could not rise without assistance, for his 
ankle was broken ; and the clumsy practitioner who was 
called in only reduced the dislocation by rendering his 
patient a cripple for life. 

Charles was truly repentant for the injury his headstrong 
temper had impelled him to commit to his brother, and 
earnestly sought forgiveness. Not a word of murmurng 



848 WILD OATS. 

or complaint was heard from Amyas. He bore with 
wonderful patience all the torture to which the surgeon's 
clumsy manipulation condemned him, and the forced con- 
finement to his room. He was never known to utter a 
syllable on the subject, and apparently he had forgiven the 
injury his brother had done him ; but, had any one noticed 
the demoniac glance which shot from beneath his eyebrows 
when he left the room for the first time with the conscious- 
ness that he was a cripple, he would have suspected that 
Amyas Dasbwood bore bitter malice in his heart. 

For years Amyas brooded over his revenge. Not that a 
glance betrayed his feelings : he displayed the calmness 
of a stoic when his brother outstripped him at school, and 
endured with wondrous patience the coarse jests of his 
playfellows; but he wrote up a long list of insults, for 
which he intended to take ample revenge, and the feeling 
of punishing his brother took deep root in his heart, to the 
exclusion of every fraternal impulse. With Charles the 
contrary took place. With the standing memento of his 
passion in his brother's crippled leg ever before him, he 
made extraordinary efforts to master his passion, and suc- 
ceeded even better than he could have anticipated. He 
aided his brother in every possible way — fought his battles 
for him — lied for him — stole for him — was flogged for him ; 
but nothing moved Amyas. Like Frederick Barbarossa 
when the Milanese prisoners were brought before him, 
" his face was as a stone," and no one could imagine the 
volcano which was raging in his heart. 

Time passed on, and the brothers were separated. Charles 
joined his battery, while Amyas travelled en grand seigneur, 
and increased his knowledge of men and things. At the 
period his brother was ordered to Canada they had not met 
for five years, and Charles had almost forgotten the injury 
he had inflicted on his brother, when Amyas took his 
revenge in the way most congenial to bis feelings. 

My readers will remember that Miss IdaTrevanion never 
returned to her Irish borne after her first visit to the con- 
tinent, and, though engaged to be married to Charles 
Dashwood, none of her relations were at all aware what 
had become of ber; yet it was simple in the extreme. By 
one of those strange combinations which repeatedly occur, 
Amyas Dashwood met with Ida Trevanion, and to see her 
was to love her. But I do not think he would have gone 
eo far as to marry her, and thus fly in the face of all his 
worldly father's precepts, but he received some news which. 



WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN ? 349 

stimulated him to sacrifice anything so that Ida should be 
his. 

It was at Wisbaden that they first met, and Amyas was 
soon dangling at her heels with very undecided views as to 
his conduct with regard to her. One day at the hotel, 
however, he noticed a letter addressed in his brother's well- 
known hand to Miss Trevanion, and forwarded to her from 
Ireland. An extraordinary impulse bade him seize the 
letter, and a perusal convinced him of the ardent love his 
brother bore to Ida. From that moment Amyas swore she 
should be his, no matter what price it cost him. 

And he had to pay a heavy one. Although Ida was a 
vain, selfish girl, she was at the same time of a very calcu- 
lating nature. She was quite willing to let the elder 
brother take the place of the younger, but it must be on the 
same terms. She had no idea of helping to gratify her 
new lover's vengeance at the expense of her own honour. 
When Amyas made some tentatives of this nature she 
repulsed him with such calmness that he soon saw the 
futility of such efforts, and that the only way to gain her 
was by marriage. 

Listening solely to the dictates of his infernal temper, 
Amyas revenged himself on his brother, and, as is generally 
the case, paid a bitter penalty himself. Ida was not a 
woman to make any man happy for a lengthened period. 
She was certainly a magnificent animal, but that was all. 
Her education had been sadly neglected, and her husband, 
who bad long been accustomed to associate with the 
cleverest members of her sex, soon turned with disgust 
from her inanities. Possession, as usual, was followed by 
satiety, and Amyas began to find any lady's society more 
agreeable than that of his legitimate wife. Add to this the 
thousand unpleasantnesses arising from her anomalous 
position — residing at Brussels, and her husband not daring 
openly to avow his marriage for fear of the consequences — 
and her beauty causing her to be regarded as his mistress — 
for she was too beautiful for a legitimate affection — and we 
may imagine that her temper soon began to grow soured. 
She fancied she had made a bad bargain, and with repent- 
ance came a desire to change her position. 

Her husband's open liaison with the prima donua of 
the opera was the first signal for battle between them, and 
Amyas, who was rather proud of his temper, was forced to 
confess that Ida was a perfect demon. She swore a bitter 
oath that she would follow the path he indicated, and that 



350 WILD OATS. 

the rupture of the marriage vow should be mutual. She 
defied him — she said that she would do as she pleased now 
that he had set her the example, and he was at her mercy. 
One word from her to old Sir Amyas, and her husband 
would be a beggar. 

The birth of Helen caused no change in this miserable 
menage. Her early life was truly a passage through a vale 
of tears, and her mother treated her cruelly, through the 
hatred she bore to the father. Fortunately the child was 
too young to be corrupted; but she was left to the tender 
mercies of a nurse, being detested by both father and 
mother, as a further link in the chain which they would 
both have been so willing to break. 

At length the crisis came. While all Brussels was ringing 
with the daring exploit Amyas had performed, in carrying 
off M'selle Fevart of the opera from her countless swarm 
of adorers, fresh fuel was added to the excitement by the 
news that Madame Mowbray (such being the name by 
which Ida went), had eloped with an officer of the French 
chasseurs. There was a general laugh at the affair : it was 
"diamond cut diamond," both, probably, rejoicing in this 
amicable disruption of their connection, and at the end ot 
the necessary nine days the wonder had died out, to make 
room for some other marvel. 

Amyas Dashwood was truly miserable — not at thet oss of 
his wife, but because be could not attempt to procure a 
divorce without divulging the secret of his marriage, and 
thus rendering himself an object of ridicule. It is needless 
for me to describe in extenso all the gradations of sin through 
which Mrs. Dashwood passed; but, after some three or four 
years (during which I will do her the credit of sayiDg she 
paid for the support of her child, although she never saw 
her), Sir Amyas's failing health gave her a capital opportu- 
nity for annoying her husband, of which you may be quite 
sure she took every advantage. Almost simultaneously he 
received an appointment as attache to an embassy, and he 
was forced to effect a compromise with her. He agreed to 
settle J150 a year upon her, on condition that she never 
divulged the secret of her marriage, or taught her daughter 
who her father was, and to this the lady consented. She 
passed herself off as a widow, and kept the terms of the 
treaty faithfully. 

At length M. Leblanc offered her marriage, thinking 
that she might prove of great service to him in his ne- 
farious schemes, and by some inexplicable folly she con- 



WHO KILLED COCK EOBIN ? 351 

sented to marry him, and thus loose her hold on Amyas Dash- 
wood. He very soon heard of her imprudent step, and 
stopped her allowance, as he could hold the threat of prose- 
cution over her as a certain means of compelling her 
secrecy. By this time Madame Leblanc had gained a 
certain position, and it would have been highly incon- 
venient for her to have any scandal raised about her. Nor 
did she breathe a syllable to Leblanc, for fear he might 
take advantage of the circumstance to leave her; but that 
worthy gentleman was perfectly acquainted with all the 
facts of the case before he had consented to go through the 
form of matrimony. However, as he did not feel inclined 
to give up the money without a struggle, he applied to Mr. 
Worthington, briefly describing the case, and requesting 
him to threaten Sir Amyas, who had succeeded to the title 
by this time, into a compromise. The worthy little man 
received him in the way I have already stated, and he re- 
turned to Madame, quite decided to turn her off whenever 
he found that her attractions did not pay. 

He had no occasion, however, to fear this. Madame, in 
spite of her loose mode of life, was not one of those women 
on whom passion leaves any traces : with her it was all a 
matter of calculation, and her charms only grew stronger 
with maturity. In consequence M. Leblanc was to her 
a model husband, and they lived on the pleasantest pos- 
sible footing, until his untimely death forced her into 
sending for her daughter, and trying to carry on the 
game with her assistance. 

But it must not be supposed that Sir Amyas had lain on 
a bed of roses all these years. He knew his wife's temper 
too well not to apprehend an explosion at any moment, 
and I believe he would willingly have paid the Count a 
very handsome sum for restoring him to liberty. So soon 
as his wife was dead he determined never to recognise his 
daughter, but leave her to struggle with life as she best 
could. She had probably profited by her mother's lessons, 
and one woman of that sort, Sir Amyas justly concluded, 
was sufficient in an aristocratic family. What, then, must 
his rage have been when he found the nephew whom he 
intended to make his heir linked with his daughter, and 
ready to marry her? In his fury he acted quite without 
his usual caution. The Durlacher held him at bay, and he 
offered her marriage within a month of his having regained 
his liberty Poor fellow ! he was fated to be taken in by 



352 WILD OATS. 

his desire for vengeance, for in both instances he had been 
the greatest sufferer. 

But his punishment was the more severe when he formed 
the acquaintance of the daughter whom he had sworn never 
to recognise, and found in her a pure-minded English girl, 
of whom any father might be proud. The more he saw 
of her the more he marvelled how she could be the daughter 
of the woman whom he had married to spite his brother, 
and he would have given worlds if he could have unmarried 
himself, and got rid of the heir who was now coming into 
the world to rob her of her patrimony. The thought that 
he must settle all he possessed upon a son whom he believed 
was not his own, merely for the sake of endowing the title, 
and not allowing the Dashwoods to be lowered in the 
world, was gall to him] but what could he do? He was 
the slave of conventionalism, and dared not act in the 
manner his conscience urged him was the right. 

At length, like a coward, he made up his mind that it 
would be better not to raise expectations in Helen which 
he could never satisfy, and, though he yearned to take her 
to his heart, and pour into her willing ear the story of his 
misery, feeling sure she would bestow consolation on him, 
so fettered was he by that artificial system of which he was 
the vassal, that he would sooner suffer her to be looked 
upon as a bastard than as the portionless daughter of Sir 
Amyas Dashwood. 

I must do the old gentleman the justice, however, of 
saying that he was not acquainted with the villanous false- 
hood Madame Leblanc had employed to mould her daughter 
to her views ; if so, I think his resolution would have been 
scattered to the winds, and he would have done anything, 
however romantic and foolish, to insure her peace of mind. 
He hoped that she would marry Charles, who was of an 
eccentric turn of mind, and by no means a true Dashwood, 
for he preferred honest industry to aristocratic beggary : be 
might not think it derogatory to marry a portionless and 
illegitimate girl, and would probably be in a position to 
render her happy. 

On the top of these resolutions came the ugly wound 
which Sir Amyas received in the insurrection. At first his 
anger bore up against the pain. That filthy democrats 
should have caused the Britannic envoy to be wounded 
almost surpassed belief; but the fact was a very stubborn 
one, and a long illness proved to Sir Amyas that he was 



WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN ? 353 

also composed of the ordinary clay, and amenable to all 
the accidents and incidents of everyday humanity. 

Helen's departure from Giirkenhof was a sad blow to 
him, for he had grown almost unconsciously into the habit 
of expecting to see her daily, and console himself for the 
past in studying her honest open face. Her absence had 
been protracted, and he had worried himself into a fit of 
the gout, but that being an aristocratic disease he was not 
particularly annoyed by it. His old wound opened too, 
and he was twenty times on the point of sending off to 
Paris and begging Helen to return to him, even at the risk 
of explaining everything; but his Dashwood pride always 
interfered at the decisive moment. Altogether he was a 
most wretched old man, and took to drinking, which could 
only be mitigated in its effects by enlarged dose* of col- 
chicum, causing him to suffer the tortures of the damned 
in anticipation. 

When the news of Helen's return reached him he had 
been forced to succumb to his enemy, and take to his bed. 
The gout was performing various acrobatic feats about him, 
leaping from his feet to his head, and thence to his stomach, 
with most laudable perseverance. He began to fancy that 
he was not immortal, and hence he desired to see Helen, 
and induce her to accept £1000 which he had put 
aside for her. He had grave doubts as to whether she 
would take the money, unless he divulged the reasons for 
giving it to her, and yet he did not wish to blush before 
his daughter. At any rate he was warned to come to a 
speedy decision, and at length sent off a messenger to 
Helen, begging her to come to him at once; he was very 
ill, and much wished to see her before he went hence and 
was no more seen. 

Poor Helen! she was crying bitterly over the letters when 
this message reached her, and, as you may suppose, it re- 
doubled her grief. It seemed as if she was fated to lose 
her father at the moment she had found him. All the 
happy resolves she had been forming vanished into thin 
air, and her hopes of acting as a daughter to the unhappy 
old man were blighted. She had formed such blessed 
projects; she would strive to draw him back to the right 
path by kind perseverance, and if she could once induce 
him to recognise the vitality of religion all else would be 
easy to her. She had made up her mind to nurse him 
through his illness, and wean him from his thoughts of 
anger against her Charles. She never thought of the in- 

A A 



354 WILB OATS. 

justice she had suffered at the hands of her father, and if 
at times she yielded to the seductions of the gold demon, 
and thought of the money Sir Amyas would leave behind 
him, you may be quite sure it wa3 only that she might 
insure her Charles a comfortable and honourable future. 

But there was no time to delay. She must hasten to 
obey Sir Amyas's summons, for to her his slightest wish 
should now be a law; so she hurried off to the English 
palace in a fearful state of agitation, hoping that Sir Amyas 
would meet her half way in her confidence. She felt, she 
Imew not why, that she could never address him as a father 
unless she received his sanction, and she feared that Sir 
Amyas would not be able to conquer his pride sufficiently 
to avow openly his connection with a woman like Madame 
Leblanc. 

Her motto, "Wait and hope," was still to be Helen's 
consolation, and she fully resolved to devote her days to her 
father, even if she had not the ineffable pleasure of being 
recognised by him. She found herself ushered into Sir 
Amyas's bedroom in a fearful state of uncertainty, rendered 
still more painful by the slight ray of hope which only 
made the darkness visible. 



CHAPTER XLIL 

MENSCHENHASS UND KEUE. 



The sight of the poor old man writhing in his pain, his 
withered face resembling a poached egg as it lay among 
the downy pillows, produced a sudden revulsion in my 
Helen. All her resolves were cast to the winds as she 
noticed the imploring glance he turned upon her, and, rushing 
forward with a loud cry, she threw her arms rouud his 
neck. "My father, my dear father!" was all she could 
ejaculate, clinging closely to him, as if she feared he might 
die before he had given her his blessing. 

Sir Amyas was intensely moved. Judging the world 
from his own selfish stand-point, he had not believed that 
sueh feelings as Helen displayed could exist. He burst 
into a flood of very welcome tears, and for a short time 
indulged in the luxury of an emotion. At length he said, — 

" What, my poor girl ! you are ready to recognise a father 



MENSCHENHASS UND REUE. 355 

who has ever behaved to you like a brute ? I do not deserve 
this at your hands, and feared to impart my secret to you, 
lest you might upbraid me for my neglect. Thank God 
that I can die with that sin off my conscience ! Were it 
permitted me to live 1 would strive to undo the past, and 
place you in a position to which your birth entitles you 
but, alas ! it is too late." 

"Oh, father! do not talk about such matters. What 
care I for the past in this blessed present? Say that I am 
your daughter, that you love me, and I ask for nothing 
else." 

" And when I am gone you will think kindly of a father 
who has defrauded you of your fortune, and left you to 
buffet the world without the protecting shield of money? 
Yes, I believe you will, Helen, for you are an angel. 
Would that I had known you earlier! I should have been a 
better man, and not give way to the insane fear of death 
which at times unmans me. I feel that I am dying, 
Helen, but this happy meeting will steel me against all 
the terrors of a last awful moment. I may linger on for 
months, but I almost wish the scene to close at once ; no 
medicine can alleviate my sufferings, though your presence 
will cheer me. You will not leave me again, Helen, but 
close the eyes of your father?" 

" Do not ask me such a question, dearest father ; I am 
wholly yours from this moment. Perhaps my devotion 
may recall you to a happy life. You cannot leave me at 
the very moment of meeting under such blessed auspices." 

"No, my dear child, you must not deceive yourself; my 
days are surely numbered, and I will not run any further 
risk of injuring you. Give me that pocket-book; you will 
find in it ^1000, which I have set apart for you. It is but 
a small sum ; but I believe you are not actuated by selfish 
motives. You will marry your cousin, I sincerely hope ; 
he has been chastened by misfortunes, and will now be 
prepared to battle with life, armed with experience." 

"And may I bring Charles to see you and crave your 
forgiveness, dearest father ? Believe me, he is truly re- 
pentant for having offended you. Not, I mean, in the 
matter of the marriage," said Helen, with a saucy toss 
of her head ; " but he feels that his unfortunate con- 
neetion with the revolution must have caused you great 
pain." 

" Well, Helen, I will see him if you wish it, but it will be 
of little use; I have nothing to leave him, and have 



356 



WILD OATS. 



punished him most severely by depriving him of his suc- 
cession. The only consolation I can offer him is that you 
should be married directly, and not let my precarious state, 
of health interfere with his happiness. But leave me now, 
dearest, to think over this blessed interview. To-morrow, I 
trust, you will move hither, and then we shall be no more 
parted in this life. Nay, I wish you to go; you need feel 
no fear about me. Surely you will not refuse to obey the 
first command your father lays upon you?" 

With a heavy heart Helen quitted the embassy, and 
hastened to send off a note to Charles, telling him of the 
happy issue. But he had left Giirkenhof two hours pre- 
viously, summoned to London by a hurried telegraphic 
despatch from Runciman, and promised to return so soon 
as matters were satisfactorily arranged. Helen, therefore, 
anxiously awaited the morning, that she might return to 
her father's side, and strive, by earnest attention and perfect 
devotion, to wean him from those thoughts which were still 
too much of the world, worldly. 

But the fiat had gone forth : Helen was fated never to 
see her father again in life. When Fritz entered his master's 
room the next morning he found the old gentleman bowed 
over his writing table quite dead. It seemed that his last 
thoughts had been devoted to Helen, for he had been engaged 
in writing a codicil to his will. He had scrawled, " I will 
and bequeath to my beloved daughter, Helen Dashwood, 

the sum of ten thous ;" and here the pen had fallen 

from his nerveless hand. The exposure to the cold must 
have driven the gout to his stomach, and he seemed to have 
died without a struggle. 

Helen was fearfully shocked by this sudden death, and 
the worst thought of all was that Sir Amyas had died with 
his defiant, impenitent spirit strong upon him. I am in- 
clined to think, though, that his thoughts had taken a 
favourable change during the last few months, for I 
remember that all the scoffing books had been removed 
from his library, nnd their place taken by Jeremy Taylor 
and other works of the same nature. A favourable sign of 
grace was that, when I proceeded to take down a favourite 
volume of Voltaire to enforce an argument by a quotation, 
he did not wince at the angry " pish" I uttered on finding 
a volume of Bossuet in my hands, but gravely said, " My 
young friend, I find that sort of reading act as an excellent 
sedative." It was evident, though, that he did not wish to 
let all the world know and laugh at his conversion, for the 



MENSCHENHASS UND REDE. 357 

good books were bound precisely like the naughty books, 
and ray mistake was very natural. 

A magnificent funeral, at which the entire court was 
requested to attend, formed the last honour which could be 
paid to the dead, and a column of the Times was devoted 
to a description of the many victories he had gained by 
diplomatic art. On opening his will it was found that he 
had died comparatively a poor man ; he had only contrived 
to increase his patrimony by £'10,000, and had strictly tied 
the money down to go with the estate. The original £20,000 
reverted to his son, the interest of the other ten being paid 
to Lady Dashwood so long as she remained unmarried or 
alive. It would then be added to the other sum, and the 
interest of the whole would form a decent appanage to the 
title. 

The Grand Duke was greatly pleased at hearing of the 
discovery made by Helen, for he was very fond of her, and 
so long as she wanted nothing of him he always welcomed 
her presence. He tried to negotiate a bargain with Lady 
Dashwood that Helen should be constituted guardian of the 
young heir, but to this Helen would not consent. Site 
could not forgive the ci-devant opera singer for having 
deceived her father so grossly, and, I am sorry to say, 
detested the young Sir Amyas, as much as her angel nature 
would allow, for defrauding ber Charles of his right* 
While thinking about the future all doubts were solved by 
receiving a letter from my hero. 

He wrote in magnificent spirits. Ennciman had received 
the long-expected government appointment, and had secured 
his old collaborateur the editorship of the Skirmisher. 
Charles had £10 a week certain, and did not see what could 
prevent their speedy marriage. He therefore proposed 
that she should come over to England at once, and for that 
purpose Mrs. Fitzspaviu was en route to chaperone her. 
She should live with that lady until a decent interval for 
mourning had elapsed, but it must not be the conventional 
year. Charles could not understand why he should be 
compelled to mortify himself as a means to do honour to 
his deceased uncle. 

Helen was only too glad to assent to this offer, for she 
was beginning to grow tired of an unsettled life, and 
thought that she deserved some reward for all she had en- 
dured. She made known her intention at court, and though 
the Princess was very grieved at the loss of her darling 
Helen, as she called her, she was not so selfish as to stand 



358 WILD OATS. 

in the way of her happiness. On the contrary, she sought 
by every device to increase her happiness, and forced upon 
her a multitude of presents, which example was followed 
by the Grand Duke and the Countess. Helen quitted Giir- 
keuhof with enough jewellery to stock a shop, and, better 
Btill, with a consciousness that it was only the due recog- 
nition of her services to the Grand Ducal family. Before 
her departure a chapter was held, and she was invested 
with the second class Grand Cross of the Pommeranze, the 
scarlet ribbon forming a charming contrast to her mourn- 
ing dress and blushing cheeks. The Duke with his own 
hands presented her with the diamond-mounted star of the 
order, and held a long speech upon her manifold merits, 
all of which duly appeared in the columns of the Giirkenhof 
Nachtuaehter. 

Mrs. Fitzspavin soon gained Helen's heart by the praises 
she poured out on Charles, and they steamed down the 
Rhine in perfect harmony. At Coblentz Mrs. Fitzspavin 
was destined to hear a piece of news which relieved her 
from much nervous apprehension lest her, husband would 
one day make his appearance, and rob her \uA her boy of 
all the fruits of her industry. Three gentlemen came on 
board and stationed themselves close to our ladies, staring 
them out of countenance with that good breeding peculiar 
to travelling Englishmen. Finding their ceillades wasted, 
however, they fell into conversation, disjointed fragments 
reaching the ladies' ears. 

" That was a rum start, rather, at Ems," said one. 

"Oh, you mean Fitzspavin's business! Served him 
right," replied another. 

" Well, I don't know ; I think he was quite right in re- 
fusing to fight such a cad as Leggitt. He 'd no right to 
come dunning him for money ; it would have been time 
enough to have been on him in England." 

" Well, Leggitt didn't think so at any rate ; and, after 
that awful thrashing he gave Fitz in the rooms, he had no 
resource but fighting." 

"A doosid sell, though, for Fitz to be shot through the 
heart. I only wish he'd lived four-and-twenty hours longer, 
for then he'd have succeeded to the title, and I should have 
got the money he owes me. But, holloa! there's a lady 
fainted." 

The news was rather overpowering for Mrs. Fitzspavin, 
and in a very woman-like fashion she had fainted. How- 
ever, it would have been mere affectation on her part 



MENSCHENIIASS UND BEUE. 359 

to regret a man who had behaved so brutally to her, and 
perhaps the loss of the title affected her more than that of 
her husband ; so she speedily recovered from the shock, and 
before long began talking to Helen about her altered 
prospects, and what a nice man Mr. Runciman was. 
They reached England without any further incident or 
accident, as they were not travelling on our railways ; and 
Charles strained Helen to his heart, vowing that they should 
never be separated again, after all the hope deferred they 
had been forced to endure. 

Charles was now a made man. His position insured 
him an immediate audience with the publishers, and his 
second novel, not being written under the cramping pres- 
sure of poverty, was a decided suocess. I fancy, too, that 
constant intercourse with Helen was very beneficial to him, 
for he began to believe in the truth of woman's love, and 
his female characters were no longer, as before, arrant 
coquettes or insipid fools. He made a large sum by his 
novel, being this time not compelled to listen to the insidious 
offers of Mr. Belloes; and that, together with Helen's £1000, 
was of very great service in furnishing a charming villa at 
Richmond in readiness for their marriage. 

Helen, however, was steady in her resolves not to be 
married until the proper period had elapsed ; and it was 
not until Charles jesuitically reminded her of Sir Amyas's 
expressed wish that his death should not interfere with her 
marriage, that she consented to shorten the time to nine 
months. In this decision she was strengthened by the 
example of Mrs. Fitzspavin, who, being now appointed 
guardian to her son, a ward of Chancery, and receiving 
.£1000 a year, became Mrs. Runciman. That gentleman 
had long been arguing in his own mind the propriety of 
marrying the fair widow, and her allowance decided the 
question. His £1200 a year was united to her £1000, 
and there was no doubt that they would pull admirably 
together. Mrs. Fitzspavin had an intense reverence for 
Mr. Runciman's talents, while he considered her the most 
foolish woman he had ever met, so they were exactly suited 
to each other. I am happy to say, for the honour of literature, 
that he made her an excellent husband; and she, fool 
though she was, humoured him to the top of his bent, and 
ended by becoming his thorough master. Last year there 
was a picture in the Academy of " Hercules and Omphale," 
in which I am certain I detected the features of Mr. and 
Mrs. Runciman. It was painted by Mr. Styffe, whom the 



360 WILD OATS. 

Times honoured by calling "that rising young artist." 
Charles's friendship had been a tower of strength to him, 
and judicious puffing has drawn popular attention to his 
works. They are not a bit better now than when first 
he entered the pictorial arena, but fashion has made a 
man of him. 

But I am running ahead too fast — my usual fault. T 
have not yet told you about my Helen's marriage, and 
to omit that would be an unpardonable sin in the eyes 
of all my lady readers. But I can assure you that, 
though I was present at the marriage, I cannot re- 
member how Helen was dressed — whether she wore the 
regulation orange blossoms and veil, or how many clergy- 
men assisted at the awful ceremony. I was too busily 
engaged in studying Helen's face, which revealed a world 
of emotion, but not a trace of apprehension about the step 
she was going to take. Love was evidently the master 
passion, and had excluded all else ; she was imbued by that 
perfect confidence — that love which casteth out fear, and 
felt that her lot was cast in pleasant places. 

But, on consideration, I am inclined to believe that 
Helen was married in a bonnet, for I remember we all 
drove down to Richmond, and, after inspecting " the bower 
of felicity," had a tremendous spread at the Star and Garter. 
I don't know how much champagne I drank on the auspi- 
cious occasion ; but I have a vivid remembrance of a fearful 
headache the nest morning, and a very faint impression of 
bow I got to bed. But I was a young and foolish bachelor 
in those days, and envied Charles his bappiness. Since then 
I have put away childish things, and can go through the 
mockery of a wedding breakfast without disqualifying 
myself as a professor of teetotalism. 

Not long after the wedding the Marquis of Lancing 
resigned his magnificent embassy. He had made a most 
extraordinary muddle in his diplomatic post, and confusion 
had been worse confounded. Some troublesome member 
of the Lower House, who felt no reverence for birth, and 
denied in toto its claims to hereditary legislation, had in- 
sisted on a return, showing the amount of falling off in our 
commercial transactions with Timbuktu, and the incom- 
petence of the Marquis was proved beyond a doubt. The 
government was forced to yield to the pressure: itself the 
result of a compromise, it had no internal stability, and 
dared not risk its existence on the retention of an ob- 
noxious official; so a special messenger was despatched at 



MENSCHENHASS UNO EEUE. 801 

once to the Marquis, urging him to send in his resignation, 
while his recall was slowly sent over in a sailing ship 
Hence it was quite evident that the Marquis resigned of 
his own accord, as any one may see by a comparison of the 
dates, if he has the patience to wade through the inter- 
minable Blue Book, printed on the subject of a private 
grievance at the expense of the country. 

But the return of the Marquis to England did not pro- 
duce the desired result: the sturdy merchant regarded it 
as a mockery of justice, and raved about impeachment, 
because he had lost £8000 by the minister's laches, while 
the Marquis bullied the unhappy government into believing 
that he was a very ill-used man, and threatened to rush into 
print unless his wrongs were redressed. As it was impossible 
to offend a man who had a dozen votes in his pocket, the 
Marquis was rewarded for his distinguished services by being 
appointed " Waste-paper basket," and promised the next 
vacancy in the Garter bede-roll. 

During the quarrel with the government Charles and the 
Marquis got to loggerheads, because the former would not 
devote the Skirmisher to his cause, and was even obliged to 
refuse admission to the letters which the Marquis sent 
weekly, and which would have 6wamped even the Times. 
However, the causa teterri ma belli once removed by Susan's 
intercession, they grew fast friends again; in fact, the 
Marquis could not do without him long, for the magnificent 
account of the " Mission to Timbuktu" had to be prepared 
for the press, and who could do it so well as Charles ? My 
hero set to work with his whole heart, and, by carefully 
studying every writer on the subject, and converting the 
Marquis's copy into pipe-lights, succeeded in producing 
that magnificent book, blazing with ultramarine and gold, 
which may still be seen holding the place of honour in 
Mrs. Jones's (of Plateglass) boudoir. 

The Marquis was delighted with his literary achieve- 
ments, and fancied that he was of the stuff of which 
authors are made; so since that period he has regularly 
produced a novel per annum, and is the great admiration 
of all the bonnet makers who surround Leicester Square. 
To evince his gratitude to Charles he put him into parlia- 
ment at the next dissolution, and nobly permitted him to 
vote as he pleased, although he makes bitter complaints to 
Susan in private about the "fellah not sticking up for 
family as he ought to do. But that 's the worst of having to 
do with those deuced papers;" and the Marquis consoles 



362 WILD OATS. 

himself by going down to the House, and dribbling forth three 
mortal hours of twaddle on the exclusion of Jews from 
parliament, or the impudence of those newspaper fellahs, 
who dare to poke their ribald jests at the aristocracy. 
Altogether he is a very harmless, good-tempered gentleman, 
and, I am glad to say, behaved with unexampled bravery 
at the Alma. At the first news of war he thought slaughter 
a much more exciting amusement than horse-racing, and 
insisted on going out as a volunteer. He was found after 
the battle with a clubbed musket, four Russians lying 
round him, and unable to move from a very pretty stab 
through his thigh. He got put to rights, and tried the 
siege, but soon grew tired of that. There was no excitement 
in watching the trench work, so he went on board ship, and 
managed to leave Balaclava just before the great storm. 
He bore his honours very blushingly, however, and did not 
attempt any disguise as to his motives for returning home : 
" urgent private affairs," in the shape of heart- rending letters 
from Susan, who had no wish to be a widow, had impelled 
him to come home, and he modestly declined all the ovations 
offered him by his tenantry. He is. rather a bore, it is true, 
with his eternal account of the battle of the Alma, of 
which he saw nothing except the smoke and the Russian 
grey coats, but not a bit more so than those unlucky old 
gentlemen who introduced the fashion of describing the 
siege of Sebastopol after dinner, and proved infallibly, by 
means of decanters, nuts, and wine-glasses, how the siege 
must be conducted to insure certain success. One thing I 
am bound to add in his favour — he did not write a book on 
the subject of the war. Although Mr. Belloes was rumoured 
to have gone down on his knees to him, and implored him 
to write the book of the season, he was inflexible. If he 
had had anything to write about the case might have been 
different, but it was utterly impossible to dilute a gun-shot 
wound into a quarto volume, and on such a subject the 
Marquis understood no trifling. 

When those wondrous letters of Mr. Bussell stirred the 
nation to its depths by describing the sufferings of our 
magnificent soldiers, and the apathy of a selfish govern- 
ment, the Marquis set to work m a practical manner to 
relieve them. He laid out £10,000 in purchases, and, as he 
chai-tered a vessel of his own. having a wise distrust of 
government transports, the comforts reached their destina- 
tion before the war had terminated. He gained the hearty 
admiration of the troops, who drank his health in flowing 



ANCHORED ! 363 

bumpers of strong ale, and when he read the account in the 
papers he was compelled to allow that " there was some 
gratitude in the plebs after all." 



CHAPTER THE LAST. 

ANCHORED ! 



It is with a feeling of regret that I commence my last 
chapter of the eventful life of my hero. I have grown into 
a liking for the young fellow, for, though he has behaved 
like an ass in many matters, he has retrieved his position 
manfully. He has steadily won his way up that gradus ad 
Parnassum on which every author who is imbued with the 
dignity of his profession strives to attain the topmost peak, 
and I am happy to say he has succeeded, and now enjoys 
an extensive and delicious prospect of the promised land 
beyond. It will only depend upon himself whether he 
remain at the summit or slowly descend into the vale, 
trusting to his past renown to insure him a tranquil and 
usefut existence. 

I am afraid, though, that, like too many authors, he will 
only employ literature as a stepping-stone to something 
promising greater publicity. He is tired of having all his 
good things concealed under the cloak of the anonymous 
writer, and is conscious that his published works offer but 
a faint reflex of the versatility of his genius. His par- 
liamentary career has not satisfied him either, for he has 
found to his surprise that his tongue is not so ready as his 
pen, and that it requires great nerve to face the House of 
Commons assembled in parliament. Hence he generally 
gives a silent vote, and is looked upon as a very rising 
man. Some day or other he will have an opportunity of 
extorting some 'good berth from government, and spend 
the balance of his life as a useful member of the governing 
classes. 

In the meanwhile he is enjoying the jucunda et idonea 
vitee in full measure ; he is blessed with a quiver full of 
children, the advent of each being marked by the publica- 
tion of a new book; in fact, it has become a standing jest 
in the profession, and many bets are pendent at this 
moment, whether Mr. Dashwood's next book or Mrs. Dash- 



364 WILD OATS. 

wood's next baby will be first announced in the Times. 
Still he is very happy, and feels secure of the future, which 
is the main security for permanent domestic serenity. Lore 
has had no occasion to fly out of windows in his household, 
owing to the entrance of carking poverty by the doorway. 

His best friend is James Worthington, who with Jane 
lives in a magnificent country house near Twickenham 
That wonderful gold discovery which seemed solely in- 
tended to convert all honest men into rogues, and all the 
rogues into honest men, had not failed in exercising ita 
effects upon young Worthington. He was too wise to give 
up a certain present for an uncertain future, and con- 
sequently did not go to the diggins, but he took care to 
benefit by the opportunity. He opened a spirit store, and, 
by a, judicious blending of water with the fiery spirit, which 
profited himself and did no injury to the consumer, he 
rapidly turned his crowns into pounds. But it was not a 
period when a man could confine his attention to one 
branch of trade. The great stream of emigration flowed 
past their doors, and they must take advantage of it in 
every possible way. His flocks sold at unexampled prices, 
and his father, by going up to the diggins and buyiDg 
gold, speedily amassed an immense fortune. His greatest 
coadjutor, strange to say, was Joe Bowles the bushranger. 
The bagful of gold he possessed imbued him with a strong 
feeling of the rights of property, and he stood by old Wor- 
thington during an attack made on his store by a party of 
ruffians. The old man never resied till he had procured a 
full pardon for the bushranger, who was converted into an 
honest man by the simple process of being trusted. He was 
in a fair way of being turned from an Ishmaelite into an 
Israelite, so close were the bargains he made, when the old 
man gave up his store, and gratefully presented him with 
the good-will and fixings. 

But the sword had worn out the scabbard. Old 
Worthington was unpleasantly reminded of his mortality 
at the period when fortune was smiling on him most 
benignantly. He had long before paid every farthing he 
owed in England, and his only desire was to return to the 
old country and lay his bones with his wife ; but this was 
not permitted him. He fell asleep tranquilly as a child 
one fine afternoon by the kitchen fire, after setting his 
household in order, and being at peace with all men. His 
one great sin will surely be forgiven him, in consideration of 
his mauy years of incessant toil and sincere repentance. 



ANCHORED ! 365 

He bequeathed the bulk of his fortune to Jane, with re- 
version to her children, with the exception of £ 10,000 he 
settled upon Helen, and left a name behind him in 
Australia which will not be forgotten by future generations. 
I believe, indeed, that an enterprising publisher at Mel- 
bourne has already published an Australian "Joe Miller," 
in which the greater portion of old Worthington's auc- 
tioneering jests are embodied. 

With the old man's death Jane felt an irresistible longing 
to return to England, and on winding up his affairs James 
found they had close upon ,£200,000 between them. There 
was no necessity for them to endure privations longer, and 
they wisely preferred their luxuries first hand, instead of 
waiting the tedious process of a voyage to Melbourne, and 
thence to Stapleton. They reached home in safety, and 
James tried a gentleman's life for three months; but then 
he was worn out by doing nothing and forced idleness. 
He left Jane at perfect liberty to carry out her own in- 
clinations, but followed his own bent by setting up an 
immense Australian agency, dealing in every possible 
article from a pin to a steam-engine. As he confines his 
attention almost exclusively to this, and has not yet indulged 
in the expensive luxury of bank directorship, he is sure to 
succeed, and is greatly respected indeed already. He is 
famous for his dinner parties; and his one mania is im- 
porting Australian wine, which he insists on your drinking, 
although you would much prefer sticking to his claret. In 
bis dealings with his clerks he is liberal in the extreme, 
and you need not be afraid that any of them will imitate 
bis own gloomy passage of life by being forced to keep up 
appearances on £120 a year. 

Jane and Helen are sworn friends, and I may add that 
the crowning honour was set upon them recently by their 
being presented to the Queen by the Marchioness of 
Lancing, Helen gaining considerable attention by her red 
ribbon. It is true that they had to endure a very fierce 
squeeze, and almost fainted in the press; but then think of the 
honour. What was the loss of a bracelet or two, or a dress 
destroyed, compared with that ? Charles wrote a very 
savage article on the subject in the Skirmisher, and I dare- 
say in ten years time some great change will be effected, 
and ladies will not be forced to undergo an amount of 
squeezing at St. James's to which the crowd at an execution 
is merely a jest. 

Lady Dashwood held out for two years against the pro- 



366 WILD OATS. 

visions of her husband's will ; but then nature re-asserted 
its sway, and she married the Baron von Strudelwitz, being 
very careful not to tell him of the threatened loss of her 
allowance. But the rage of the Baron when he detected 
the deception was unbounded, and he led the poor woman 
a precious life until she got Chancery to manage the affairs 
of the young baronet, and grant her an allowance. She takes 
the greatest possible care of her boy, and I think is going 
the very way to work to kill him by kindness : if he dies 
her fate will be pitiable. Her good looks are all gone in a 
violent attack of small pox, and her husband only main- 
tains a sullen civility towards her for the sake of swindling 
her out of her money. 

The poor professor was fated never to see bis life history 
welcomed by the nation and running through countless 
editions, as he had fondly anticipated. He went to law soon 
after the downfall of the Tricolor with the proprietor of the 
Convolvulus Gardens, and an adverse decision upset the 
small amount of sanity still remaining. He is now con- 
fined in Hanwell, his delusion being that he is the " man 
in the moon," and engaged in getting up subscriptions 
for an aerial railway with that little known country. He is 
only dangerous when the moon is at the full, for he regards 
it as a balloon bringing some foreign potentate to drive him 
from his throne. Charles was thus absolved from his pro- 
mise of writing his life, and I fancy was not grieved at the 
disappointment. 

I have now alluded to the fortunes of all the characters 
who have been mixed up more or less with the history of 
my hero, excepting one, and he deserves a separate para- 
graph, as representative of a system on which more abuse 
has been lavished than on any other profession or trade. 
I allude to that excellent man and distinguished publisher, 
Vfr. Belloes, who has gone on, since we last met him, from 
>ne success to another, and could retire at any moment 
43on .£50,000. This money, authors would assert, be has 
rjiade by depriving them of the fair reward of their exertions, 
^>ut as I am inclined to think by a fair exercise of his 
talents, and a profound knowledge of the literary market. 

I am aware that, in expressing such an opinion, I run 
counter to the views — may I call them the prejudices?— of 
most of my professional brethren; but suppose we look at 
the matter calmly for a moment. Mr. Belloes is a trades- 
man, nor is he ashamed of the fact; and the first rule of 
trade is to buy in the cheapest, sell in the dearest, market. 



ANCHORED ! 367 

He is not to blame because he carries out this principle in 
its integrity, and the charge of robbing authors of their 
just claim falls to the ground of itself. He gives as much 
as he can afford, or thinks he can afford, for certain literary 
wares, and runs the risk of the speculation. A book may 
succeed, or it may prove an utter failure. In the latter 
case an author is not called upon to reimburse any portion 
of his receipts; so, by common fairness, he cannot expect 
any further sum to be paid him because his book is a great 
success. It may be individually a hardship, but the gain 
made on his novel, or whatever it may be, goes to com- 
pensate for losses sustained on others. 

It is quite true that there are publishers who will de- 
liberately try to defraud an author, but they are not of a 
character and status such as Mr. Belloes holds: their 
number is very small, and they can easily be avoided. But 
I am not bound to join with Vicary in his indiscriminate 
abuse of publishers; nor, because that gentleman writes a 
book which Mr. Belloes refuses to publish, do I think him 
justified in spreading reports about his unfairness and 
tendency to cheat innocent authors. Ah ! if publishers 
could only tell their tale — if they could but make known 
the hard bargains forced upon them by men of reputation, 
and the meannesses of which members of a liberal pro- 
fession are at times guilty — I think my readers would be 
disposed to allow that between authors and publishers it is 
a very pretty game of " diamond cut diamond." 

But I am disposed to believe that publishers are not so 
much to blame for the present system of things, in which 
it is regarded as a maniacal act for an author to sit down and 
write a three-volume novel, the honorarium not repaying, 
-in most cases, one-tenth part of his time and labour. There 
is no other profession so open as literature : any one pos- 
sessed of a liberal education and a certain knack of word 
portraiture can write a novel, and it is growing the fashion 
for idle ladies to scribble their impressions, and thrust them 
down the throat of the public by the aid of a great name. 
The publishers find that the reading world is disposed to 
regard all novels with equal indulgence— I always except 
those which belong to great writers — and they naturally 
prefer getting their goods for nothing. Surely they are not 
to be blamed for this, although I have heard it before now 
brought as a serious allegation against them by disappointed 
authors. 

The truth is that no particular conjuring is required in 



8G8 WILD OATS. 

writing the ordinary novel, and the public are too careless 
to discriminate. Hence, in nine cases out of ten, the pro- 
fessional author takes to more lucrative employment, and 
leaves the field of novel writing to the ladies. The character 
of the novels may degenerate, but, as long as the receipts 
do not fall off, you may be quite sure that publishers will 
not strive to make an alteration in the system. 

I might refer to many other circumstances which have led 
to the decline and fall of the novel, but it is not necessary 
to reveal the secrets of the prison-house further. I have 
tried to set my readers right on a point about which very 
considerable misunderstanding exists, and to show that the 
publishers are not so black as they are painted. And I am 
in a position to speak from a lengthened experience, and 
when I say that I am not one of the literary frondeurs, who 
desire to introduce anarchy into our present system, I trust 
it will be believed that I am merely giving the publishers 
that degree of justice which I think they are entitled to. 
In Mr. Belloes I have tried to draw the portrait of a high- 
class publisher of the day, and trust " that I have nothing 
extenuated, nor set down aught in malice." 

I must add a few last words in the shape of a preface, 
which, being generally written last, may very well come in 
here. In the story of Charles Dashwood I have dealt with 
characters of the day — persons I have met with, as Mr. N. P. 
Willis would call them ; but if my readers are desirous to 
fit them to individuals they will find themselves mistaken. 
I have purposely generalised, and, although there certainly 
is such an h8u\ov as Mr. Pincer in existence, I have given 
many attributes to that estimable gentleman which do not 
exist in the real Simon Pure. It is the same with the in- 
cidents ; many of them have occurred within my experience, 
but none of them exactly as I have described them. I 
have modified them, exaggerated them, or weakened them 
as I thought proper, or as they would best further the in- 
terests of my story, and woven together a certain amount 
of fact with a very considerable stock of fiction. 

I am obliged to say this much in self-defence, for now-a- 
days everybody likes to be personal, and it is getting too 
much the fashion to attack individuals under the con- 
venient cloak of fiction ; so I hereby give public warning to 
my readers that, if A. finds any trait which he thinks of- 
fensive to himself, he may safely refer it to _B., and vice 
versa. My object has been to attack men not so much as 
things ; and while striving to hold up to general notice the 



anchored! 369 

accursed selfishness which " is, and moves, and has its 
being " am&Dg us at the present day, I am too much of a 
philosopher to expect that 1 shall produce the slightest 
effect. I have tried my best to adhere as closely as possible 
to the motto of the great moralist which adorns my book 
page, and shines there like a real diamond which has found 
its way amidst a parcel of strass, and though now conscious 
of many grave defects, I trust that the earnestness of pur- 
pose which has spurred me on will be accepted as a con- 
donation for many shortcomings. 

Of my hero I have no more to say. He has learned that 
the only path to success is to be found in strict attention to 
the duties of his profession, and there is no fear of his 
going astray again. But I do not wish to hold him up as 
a model to the ingenuous youth of England ; I have rather 
d.awn his career Tor the purpose of showing what is to be 
avoided. The chances were much against him, and he 
might as easily have turned out a scamp as an honest man. 
But I am prosing sadly. With the completion of my self- 
imposed task I feel more strongly the faults pervading the 
English system of society, and the terrible pitfalls which 
yawn in the path of unwary youth. The stern moralist 
will upbraid me for allowing Charles Dashwood to escape 
without the just punishment for his manifold offences; 
but I hope that the fair creatures who follow his fortunes 
will owe me thanks for leaning to the side of mercy. To all 
I bid good speed. Vivite, vulete que ! 



T'other day, between the acts of the " Messiah," I took 
up the Morning Post. My eye fell upon the fashionable 
intelligence column, and was soon attracted by the following 
paragraph : — 

" It is with much r^ret we announce the death of the 
young Sir Amyas Claude Ivor Dashwood. He is succeeded 
in the title and estates by his first cousin, Mr. Charles 
Dashwood, M P. for Rogueham, and author of several 
highly distinguished works." 

" Well," I thought to myself, " Master Charley has con- 
siderably more luck than he deserves;" and I daresay my 
readers, who by this time know as much of his antecedents 
as myself, will be of the same opinion. But I forbear. 
I am engaged to dine with Charles nest week, and, 

B B 



370 WILD OATS. 

in consideration of his magnificent Larose, cannot afford 
to quarrel with him ; at any rate, I may be allowed to say 
(and I do not think my hero will feel offended at it) that hia 
success through life is owing to his darling Helen, who 
lias kept him steadily to the collar, and, by her consolation 
and control, has prevented it chafing him. 

But all this time I am missing a magnificent chance. 
Charles will, of course, give up the Skirmisher, and the 
editorship again reverts to Ruuciman. 1 must try for that 
at once, so, leaving the Messiah, and trusting to obtain my 
critique of it from the valuable columns of the morning 
papers, I hurry off to write a note of application to my 
friend. 

Of course, I am too late. Runciman regrets much that 
I had not applied sooner. He has received two hun- 
dred and ninety-seven notes on the subject, and an Irish 
gentleman has threatened to make it a personal matter if 
he does not obtain the appointment. 

N.B — From my knowledge of Runciman, and the dear 
regard he has for his skiu, 1 think the Irish gentleman will 
succeed. 



I 



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Light on the Ocean. 

Author of ' 'Nellie of Truro. " 
Faithful unto Death. 

Rev. Richard Cobbold, A.M. 
MaryBunyan. SallieR.Ford. 
Who is My Neighbour ? 

prothesia S. Elton. 

5 Modern Accomplishments. 

Catherine Sinclair. 

6 History of Margaret Catch- 

pole. Rev. Richard Cobbold. 

7 The Bud and the Flower. 

Mrs. Saville Sheppard. 

8 Principle Developed. 

S. Selby Coppard. 

9 Faith Gartney's Girlhood. 
Author of ' ' TheGayworthys" 

io The Gayworthys. Author of 
"Faith Gartney's Girlhood." 



ILLUSTRATED FIVE SHILLING VOLUMES. 

Crown %vo, cloth gilt. 
Useful for School Prizes, Gift Books, &c, &c. 



1 Brave Ballads. 

2 Nursery Songs and Ballads. 

3 Nursery Tales and Stories. 

4 The Boy's Handy Book of 

Games. 

5 Half- Hours with the Bible. 

6 Our Nursery Story Book. 

7 Nursery Rhymes, Old and 

New. 

8 NewComicalNursery Rhymes 

Coloured Plates. 

9 Little Mary's Nursery Story- 

Book. 
io Robinson Crusoe. 

1 1 Musings about Men. 

12 Harry's Ladder to Learning. 



13 Songs for the Little Ones at 

Home. 

14 Boy's Handy-Book of Natu- 

ral History. 

15 Household Amusements and 

Enjoyments. 

16 Boy's Sea Stories. 

1 7 Unsentimental Journeys. 

18 Aunt Fanny's Pretty Picture- 

Book. Mounted, cloth. 

19 Ditto, Nursery Tales. 

Mounted, cloth. 

20 Pilgrim's Progress. 

21 Sandford and Merton. 

22 Evenings at Home. 

23 Ernest and Albert. 



11 A Summer in Leslie Gold- 

thwaite's Life. Author of 
" The Gayworthys" 

12 Agnes Selby. 

lady Lushington, 

13 Happy Days at Fernbank. 

Emma Marshall. 

14 The Story of Alice Cullis. 

Ellen Brown. 

15 The Mother's Fables in 

Verse. E. L. Aveline. 

16 Home Sketches. Author of 

' ' Quiet Thoughts for Quiet 
Hours." 

17 The Knights of the Red 

Cross. R. J. Shields. 

18 The Gates Ajar. 

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. 



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London : Ward, Lock, & Tyler, Warwick House, Paternoster Row. 

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WELL-TIMED SERIES 

Of Select Illustrated Three-and-Sixpenny Volumes. 

Suitable for Presents and School Prizes, and especially adapted 

for Young People. 

Each Volume beautifully Illustrated, well Printed,effi,ciently Edited, and 

handsomely Bound in extra cloth, gilt sides, back, and edges. 



1' 



i" 



„' ) 

\ 

% 



1 The Wonders of the World. 

Uncle John. 

2 Fifty Celebrated Men ; Their 

Lives and Trials, and the 
Deeds that made them 
Famous. 

3 Fifty Celebrated Women ; 

Their Virtues and Failings, 
and the Lessons of their 
Lives. 

4 The Life and Surprising 

Adventures of Robinson 
Crusoe. Daniel Defoe. 

5 The History of Sandford 

and Merton. Thomas Day. 

6 A Boy's Life Aboard Ship, 

as it is Told by Himself. 
Full of Adventure and 
Daring Deeds. 

7 Life in a Whaler ; or, Perils 

and Adventures in the 
Tropical Seas. 

Sailor Charley. 

8 Great Inventors; the Sources 

of their Usefulness, and the 
Results of their Efforts. 

9 Household Stories. Col- 

lected by the Brothers 
Grimm. To which is added 
" The Caravan ; " an East- 
ern Tale. William Hauff. 
io The Marvels of Nature ; or, 
Outlines of Creation. 

Elisha Noyce. 

1 1 Evsnings at Home ; or, The 

Juvenile Budget Opened. 
Dr. Aikin 6° Mrs.Barbauld. 

12 The Boy's Book of Indus- 

trial Information. 

Elisha Noyce. 

13 Fern Leaves from Fanny's 

Portfolio. First and Second 
Series, complete. 

Fanny Fern. 



14 Pilgrim's Progress (from this 

World to that which is to 
Come). John Bunyan. 

15 Famous Boys, and How they 

became Famous Men. 
Author of" Clever Boys." 

16 The Triumphs of Perseve- 

rance and Enterprise. 

Thomas Cooper. 

17 Boy's Book of Travel and 

Adventure. Meredith Jones. 

18 Edgar's Crusades and Cru- 

saders. J. G. Edgar. 

19 Fanny Fern's New Stories 

for Children. 
Author of" Fern Leaves. " 

20 Cliffethorpe ; or, The Pro- 

gress of Character. 

Harriet Pcnver. 

21 Lessons at Home ; or, Plea- 

sure and Profit. A Tale 
for Boys and Girls. 

22 The Long Holidays ; or, 

Learning Without Lessons. 
H. A. Ford. 

23 The Four Homes. Adapted 

from the French of Madame 
de Gasparin. 

Gothin Mann. 

24 Roses and Thorns ; or, Five 

Tales of the Start in Life. 

25 The Book of Children's 

Hymns and Rhymes. Col- 
lected by the Daughter of 
a Clergyman. 

26 The Carterets ; or, Country 

Pleasures. E. A. R. 

27 The Story of Herbert Lovell. 

Rev. F. W. B. Bouverie. 

28 Blanche Cleveland ; or, The 

Sunshine of Youth. 

E.A.W. 

29 The Piety of Daily Life. 

Jane C. Simpson. 



London : Ward, Lock, & Tyler, Warwick House, Paternoster Row. 

lr~ % rf*n~ T. "n — T j. -i — 1. "^n~ 1. rrf>n — "j . rn — ^ r'* i — Q_ "1 — r, i _n 



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"*? 



THE SHILLING LIBRARY. 

The extremely Cheap, Interesting, and Amusing Volumes issued 
in this Series are all written by Authors of Popularity 
and High Standing. 



Pic Nic Papers, Parts I to 4. 

1 j. each. Charles Dickens. 
How to Invest Money with 

Safety and Profit. 
Clever Criminals. JohnLang. 
Captain Macdonald. Ditto. 
Forger's Wife. 
Too Clever by Half. 
Secret Police. 

8 My Friend's Wife. 

9 Too Much Alike. 

10 Story with a Vengeance. 

Shirley Brooks. 

11 Yankee Humour. "Jerdan. 

12 Brilliant Marriage. E. Carlen. 

13 Strange Adventures of Two 

Single Gentlemen. 

C. H. Ross. 

14 The Great Mr. Gun. Ditto. 

15 The Eldest Miss Simpson. 

Ditto. 



Ditto. 
Ditto. 
Ditto. 
Ditto . 
Ditto. 



16 The Young Lady's Wedding 

Bonnet. C. H. Ross. 

17 Love Letters of Eminent 

Persons. C. Martell. 

18 Wild Tribes of London. 

Watts Phillips. 

19 Artemus Ward : His Book. 

20 Autocrat of the Breakfast 

Table. Wendell Holmes. 

21 Major Jack Downing. 

22 Biglow Papers. 

23 Railway and Parlour Song 

Book. 

24 The Three Scouts. 

25 Cudjo's Cave. 

26 The Great Battle of Patch- 

umup. Major Skunks, B. T., 
of the Volunteers. 

27 The Confidential Adviser. 

Robert Greene, of the Mid- 
dle Temple. 



New Editions, and New Wrappers Printed in Colours. 

BEETON'S COUNTRY BOOKS. 

One Shilling Each. 

* These Books contain ample instniction for all who keep Birds, 
Potdtry, Pigeons, Rabbits, Squirrels, Bees, Silkworms, or Dogs 
and Cats, and for those who are Collectors of Birds' Nests and 
Eggs. 



Poultry and Pigeons. How 

to Rear and Manage Them. 

Coloured Plates. 
British Song and Talking 

Birds. How to Rear and 

Manage Them. Coloured 

Plates. 
British Song Birds. How 

to Rear and Manage Them. 

Coloured Plates. 
The Parrot Book. How to 

Rear and Manage Them. 

Coloured Plates. 



Birds' Nests and Eggs, and 
Bird-Stuffing. Coloured 

Plates. 

Rabbits and Squirrels. How 
to Rear and Manage Them. 
Coloured Plate. 

Bees, Silkworms, and the 
Aquarium. How to Rear 
and Manage Them. Co- 
loured Plate. 

Dogs and Cats. How to 
Rear and Manage Them. 
Coloured Plate. 



s 



,» 



> London : Ward, Lock, & TrLER, Warwick Home, Paternoster Row. 



THE 



LIBRARY OF POPULAR AUTHORS. 

PRICE TWO SHILLINGS PER VOLUME. 

Under this title, Messrs. WARD, LOCK, and TYLER will issue from time 
to time Popular Works of Fiction by well-known Authors. Each Volume is 
clearly printed on good paper, and strongly bound in boards, with linen back. 



Mildred's Wedding. 
; Thfee Scouts and Cudjo's Cave. 
| Adventures of Mr. Wilderspin. 
Handy Andy. 
The Morals of Mayfair. 
The Sailor Hero. Armstrong. 
The Cruise of the Daring. Ditto. 
Margaret Catchpole. R- Cobbold. 
John Steggall. Ditto. 
Stuart of Dunleath. 

Wild Oats. Sir Lascelles Wraxall. 

The Jilt. 

The French Detective. "Waters." 

Love and Jealousy. Mrs. Trollope. 

The Attractive Man. Ditto. 

Marian. Mrs. C. Hall. 

The Opera Singer's Wife. Grey. 

Emilia Wyndham. Mrs. Marsh. 

Life of a Beauty. 

He Would be a Gentleman. 

Father Darcy. Mrs. Marsh. 

Marrying Man. Author of "Jilt." 

My Pretty Cousin. Ditto. 

Lady Evelyn. Mrs. Marsh. 

Mary Rock. Percy B. St. John. 
Peep o' Day. Banim (O'Hara). 
Mordaunt Hall. Mrs. Marsh. 
Confessions of a Pretty Woman. 
Young Husband. Mrs. Grey. 



Amy MOSS. Percy B. St. John. 

Poe's Tales of Mystery, &c. 
Time the Avenger. Mrs. Marsh. 
Leah, the Jewish Maiden. 
Nick of the Woods. R. Bird. 
Disgrace to the Family. Jerrold. 
Twelve Months of Matrimony. 
Gambler's Wife. Mrs. Grey. 

Bride Elect. Author of " The Jilt." 

Breach of Promise. Ditto. 
History of a Flirt. Ditto. 

Pic NlG Papers. Charles Dickons. 

Pirates of the Foam. Armstrong. 
The Sunny South. Ditto. 
Perils by Sea and Land. Ditto. 
The Queen of the Seas. Ditto. 
Poe's Poetical Works. 
Guilty or Not Guilty. 
Friend Eli's Daughter, &c. 
Harry Hamilton. 
Long Look Ahead. 

Miranda. Percy B. St. John. 
The Wilmingtons. Mrs. Marsh. 
Old Dower House. Mrs. Grey. 

Parsons and Widows. 
A Country Ghost Story. 
Mountain Marriage. Mayne Reid. 
Money and Misery. 
Paid in Full. 
Eccentric Personages. 






SOLD BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.